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The Fabled “Family Ruble” as an Extremely Rare Pattern

Within 19th century numismatics (and world crowns more broadly), few pieces generate the enthusiasm attracted by the famed “family Ruble” of Russian Czar Nicholas (Nikolai) II. Following the lead of Bavaria’s King Ludwig, who commissioned a rather ambitious 1828 Taler featuring small vignettes of his family upon the reverse (his family being known as his “blessings from heaven”), Nicholas sought an analog to the German circulating crown commemorative, with his own growing family emblazoned upon the reverse as well. Engraver Pavel Utkin was tasked with recreating this masterpiece, with the result being a piece slightly larger than most ordinary crowns and Rubles—that of 1-1/2 Rubles or, in Russian-dominated Poland, 10 Złoty. These rare and highly coveted crowns display, at the center of the reverse, the wife of Nicholas, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, surrounded by their seven offspring: Crown Prince Aleksandr (the future Emperor Alexander II), Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga, Alexandra, and Grand Dukes Konstantin, Nikolai, and Mikhail.

Though the majority were struck in 1836 and somewhat thereafter as novodels meant to satisfy 19th century collecting demand, an even rarer subset was struck the year prior, undoubtedly serving as patterns. These prototypes (with a mintage believed to be just 36 pieces), bear the name of Utkin upon each side, appearing as “П УТКИН” in Cyrillic and setting them apart from the subsequent “regular” issues. These wondrous specimens trade only sparingly, and always generate much fanfare when they do, given their rarity. Our auction held in conjunction with the January 2023 New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) will feature one such wondrous specimen, an NGC MS-63 that offers lovely tone, great overall cabinet flair, and a pedigree to the Sotheby’s April 1993 auction. Given the immense rarity and majestic nature of this preeminent piece, we expect great interest and intense bidding when it crosses the auction block.

To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit StacksBowers.com where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.

We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for our future auctions, and are currently accepting submissions for our Spring 2023 Hong Kong auction and our August 2023 Global Showcase auction. Additionally, we are accepting submissions for our Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auctions, the next of which will be held in February 2023. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material.

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