World Coins

Stack’s Bowers Hong Kong sale offers 1710 Russian gold medal

A rare gold medal of Russia marking a military victory during the reign of Peter I (the Great) is offered April 6 in Stack’s Bowers’ auction of the Pinnacle Collection.

Images courtesy of Stack’s Bowers.

A gold Russian medal of Peter I (the Great) is among the highlights of Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ April 6 Hong Kong auction of the Pinnacle Collection.

The medal marks the Capture of Reval (Tallinn), the capital of what is modern-day Estonia.

Though undated, the medal is from 1710, the date determined by a chronogram on the reverse.

The obverse of the medal depicts an armored bust of the famed ruler, laureate (head wreathed with laurel leaves).

The reverse features a stylized aerial view of the city’s fortifications; an armored and winged Genius flying left, holding a sword and mural crown, as indication of the civic capitulation.

Researcher Mikhail Diakov classifies this medal as Diakov 37.5 in Medals of the Russian Empire 1725–1796. Design of the medal is credited to artist I. Konstantinov.

The medal weighs 63.87 grams (more than 2 ounces) and measures 47 millimeters in diameter (1.85 inches).

This medal is one in a vast series celebrating various annual achievements during the reign of Peter the Great, among which the exploits of the Great Northern War (between Russia and Sweden) are integral.

“Along with the surrenders of Riga and Pernau, the capitulation of Estonia and Livonia (Sweden’s Baltic provinces) marked a decided shift in the balance of power in the north, with Russia emerging as a clear broker in the region,” according to the auction house.

Once alleged to have utilized biological warfare in its conquest of Reval, Russia is no longer believed to have been behind the sudden outbreak of plague within the city. Although besieged by Russian forces and ultimately yielding, the city seems to have fallen ill with the disease before Russian forces were able to lay siege.

Nevertheless, the fabled tale of Russians dumping corpses into streams destined for the city remains as an apocryphal example of biological warfare, the firm said.

The medal does feature some repaired damage to the rim, and is graded Professional Coin Grading Service Specimen Genuine.

It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000 U.S.

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