World Coins

Russia’s silver Family ruble highlights auction

A rare Russian Family ruble silver coin highlights Vienna auction house H.D. Rauch’s April 18 sale.

Images courtesy of H.D. Rauch.

Russia’s famed 1836 Family ruble of Czar Nicholas I is one of the most famous rarities of the Russian series, with researchers having identified five different varieties.

An example of one of these silver coins is being offered April 18 in an auction by H.D. Rauch of Vienna. 

The Family ruble shows a bust of Nicholas I on the obverse and Empress Alexandra Feodorowna (daughter of Frederick William III of Prussia), surrounded by all their children on the reverse. Though called a Family ruble, the coin is actually denominated 1.5 rubles or 10 zlotych. 

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With the single exception of the Family ruble, Czar Nicholas I never issued coins that depicted him. Instead of the portrait, coins of his time always show the crowned initial “N” and the Roman numeral “I.” 

The Family ruble was inspired by another European issue. Sebastian Steinbach, writing in a special catalog for a 2012 Fritz Rudolph Künker auction, notes that in September 1835, Russian Ambassador Prince Grigory Ivanovich Gagarin sent a coin from Munich to the Russian minister of finance, Count Yegor Frantsevich Kankrin, to complete the coin collection in the St. Petersburg Hermitage. The coin was an 1828 Blessings of Heaven taler issued by Bavarian King Louis I with the ruler’s portrait on the obverse and a depiction of his family (his wife and their seven children) on the reverse.

The example in the Rauch auction is graded Extremely Fine by the auction house and has an opening bid €50,000 (about $56,200 U.S.).

To learn more about the auction, visit the auction house website.

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