Extremely Rare Two Rubles of Catherine I, Ex: Soedermann Collection.

This week’s preview mirrors last week’s on Julia Domna, highlighting a woman who married into power, then became influential on her own. Additionally, both were featured on rare gold coins. In the case of this week’s coin, it has a desirable pedigree as well.

The first Russian Empress, Catherine I, is the subject of a fabulous 2 Rubles from the onset of her reign. In the brief span of her life she managed to rise from peasant origins to become Empress of Russia. Catherine worked in various households before working for Prince Alexander Menshikov, the best friend of Tsar Peter the Great. Peter quickly took her as his mistress, secretly married her, and when she helped save him and his empire through negotiations, he married her publicly. She became the Tsarina and when Peter the Great established the Russian Empire, she rose to Empress as well. In the year before his death, Peter named Catherine his co-ruler, and he died without naming a successor. The "new men" – commoners raised to positions of power based on competency – helped secure Catherine’s succession, and ruled through the Supreme Privy Council. Catherine was more than a mere puppet of this council, and was able to lower taxes by reducing military expenditures and earning popularity among the masses. Catherine’s greatest achievement was setting the precedent that women could rule Imperial Russia. The century that followed would almost entirely be dominated by women as Elizabeth and Catherine the Great continued Peter the Great’s policies of modernizing Russia.

                Catherine ruled and struck coins with her portraiture for only two years, and as such her coins – and especially the gold pieces – are scarce. The two Rubles was the only gold denomination struck by Catherine, and the example to be offered in the Stack’s Bowers August ANA auction represents the rare first year of issue. The obverse features a cuirassed bust of Catherine facing left, adorned by a crown. The Cyrillic legend states: "Catherine, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias" with the plural "Russias" having historical significance and usage dating back to 1700 and earlier. The reverse features an image of the patron saint of Russia, Saint Andrew, depicted standing facing on a low base, robed and adorned with a halo. St. Andrew is holding his famous x-shaped cross behind him. The reverse inscription reads: "New Coin weight 2 Rubles 17-26." This example possesses abundant luster and great detail for the assigned grade with a few instances of natural planchet roughness over the surfaces, but limited marks from past handling. Hailing from the prestigious Leonid Soedermann Collection, this example should attract considerable attention. Seldom seen at auction, this piece would immediately elevate whichever collection it enters.

While we are no longer accepting consignments for our August 2018 ANA Auction, we are accepting consignments for our October 2018 Collector’s Choice Online Auction as well as the January 2019 New York International Auction. In addition, we are taking consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2019 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) contact one of our consignment directors.

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