Certifies Unique Russian 1755 Pattern 20 Rouble By
NGC on Friday, September 19, 2008
rarity is among the most valuable European coins in existence.
NGC has recently certified a small group
of Russian coins from the Grand Duke Mikhailovich Collection.
Included among them was the unique Russian 1755 Pattern 20
Rouble, a legendary rarity believed to be among the most valuable
European coins in existence. These important coins are scheduled
to be sold by St. James’s Auctions in London on November
Although it has not appeared publicly in
nearly six decades, the 1755 20 Rouble frequently gets mention
as one of the most important European coins ever struck. As
part of Russia’s effort to modernize and compete with
Europe, it underwent a coinage reform in 1755 designed to
permit its coins to circulate alongside those of England,
France and the Netherlands. Produced for general circulation
were gold five-rouble and ten-rouble coins. Also created solely
in pattern form was this single gold piece valued at twenty
roubles. The highest valued coin of the Imperial period, it
was never adopted for circulation and remains unique.
Ken Krah, NGC Vice President and head of World coin grading
reflects that, “Seeing the 1755 Russia 20 Rouble is
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I handle many rarities every
week at NGC, but grading this unique and important coin still
inspired that special excitement. It’s truly a privilege
to be able to grade this magnificent coin.” Nearly mint
state, it has been authenticated and graded by NGC as AU-58.
This amazing specimen is also cataloged and plated in several
references, most notably in Severin’s Gold and Platinum
Coinage of Imperial Russia 1701 to 1911, where it appears
as number S-190.
The 1755 20 Rouble coin came to reside in the collection
of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia (1863-1919), a
first cousin of Emperor Alexander III. As the third son and
fourth child of noble birth, his royal duties were mostly
ceremonial. He was a voracious collector, building one of
the finest collections of Russian coins and medals, and he
also served as director of the Alexander III Museum.
A portion of the Grand Duke’s collection was scheduled
to be sold by his descendents in October, 1939. That sale
was cancelled following the outbreak of war in September,
and it was subsequently sold during Christie’s sale
of the Grand Duke Mikhailovich Collection in London in 1950.
The 20 Rouble, which was featured in that sale, has not appeared
on the market since.
“I can only find this one appearance of this coin at
auction in 1950. It’s very unusual to encounter a legendary
coin that has only ever appeared at auction once in it’s
entire history, and there’s a real likelihood that we
may never see it offered again in our lifetimes,” notes
Steven Fenton, owner of St. James’s Auctions and Knightsbridge
Coins. He further comments, “To me it’s a trophy
piece, the greatest Russian coin.”
The November 6, St. James’s auction includes three
other important Russian coins from the Grand Duke Mikhailovich
Collection: a 1726 Catherine I, Sev-106B 2 Rouble, graded
NGC MS62, a 1762 Peter III, Sev-247, 10 Rouble NGC AU53, and
an important 1836 Russian 10 Rouble gold pattern, NGC MS62.
These coins and the 1755 20 Rouble are described in a stand-alone
4-coin catalog, written in both English and Russian. The body
of Novemeber 6 St. James’s sale also includes other
important Russian rarities and many world coins.