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Steve D'Ippolito

Small Change Silver (post 1700)

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Given all the die varieties that Peter I had, I can imagine it's well-nigh impossible to assemble a complete collection these days. I have five coins (one not yet photographed) that fit into this "bucket". (And these, I did NOT sell in 2008.)

 

I would hope others can add their "small change" silver coins to this thread. The more the merrier.

 

Altyns: The altyn was an old denomination equal to six dengas, the name comes from the Tatar word for "six". When Peter I instituted his reform in 1700 and made the primary small denomination the Kopek (which was 2 dengas), he kept this term on the coinage for approximately 20 years but it was described as being 3 kopeks rather than 6 dengas. They are mathematically equivalent of course, but Peter I was trying to change the paradigm from: "The small unit is a denga. The polushka is half a denga, the kopek is two dengas, the altyn is six dengas. 33 altyns and two dengas make up a ruble and by the way there is no ruble coin," to: "The small unit is a kopek. A Denga is half a kopek, a polushka a quarter kopek. There are 100 kopeks in a ruble, and we actually make ruble coins now." The first quote is how a Russian would describe their monetary system in 1699; the second is how Peter I intended his reform to work out (though it took the public time to catch up), and a Russian living 50 years later would probably have described their system that way. Mathematically equivalent but different focus.

 

Note that the 1712 altyn shown below shows six star-like figures on the reverse for the six dengas in an altyn, the 1718 shows three pellets for the three kopeks, as part of the re-education of the populace about money.

 

1712 Altyn (3 kopeks):

 

1712_altyn_obv.jpg1712_altyn_rev.jpg

 

Reverse legend transliterates to "Altynnik"

 

1718 Altyn:

 

1718_altyn_obv.jpg1718_altyn_rev.jpg

 

Reverse legend transliterates to "Altynnik". The bottom line is the date using cyrillic characters. The "not equals sign" means thousands, follwed by A for 1, the two put together mean 1000. The Ψ (a letter no longer part of the cyrillic alphabet is 1700, the И is 8, the I (also no longer in the alphabet) is 10. The eight is before the ten because the Russian word for 18 derives from "eight on ten", the eight is spoken first.

 

Part of Peter I's reform was to eliminate the "Cyrillic" style dating. Both styles of date were issued concurrently for many years (and you'll note this coin is dated later than the 1712 "Arabic" date).

 

 

1705 БК Grivennik (Grivna)

 

The term "Grivna" bears explanation. As near as I can tell, Peter I adapted it from an old Ukrainian term for the silver ingots that ultimately became rubles, and he used it for the ten kopek piece. As used by Peter I it was basically the same as "dime" in the United States. Now that Ukraine is independent they use this term for their own currency, but they pronounce Г as an "H" so you see it written in English as some variant of "hrivna"

 

1705_BK_10_kopeks_obv.jpg1705_BK_10_kopeks_rev.jpg

 

Legend--front is all abbreviations, I _think_ it goes something like "P[eter] A[lexievich], [of] A[ll] R[ussia] A[utocrat], Ts[ar], P[rince]" Incidentally the word "Tsar" disappeared from Russian coinage after Peter I was proclaimed Emperor in 1721; I have very few coins that actually have the word on them.

 

Reverse Cyrillic date for 1705 (the E is 5, the other characters as described above) and "Grivnia"

 

 

1713 МД Grivennik

 

1713_MD_grivennik_obv.jpg1713_MD_grivennik_rev.jpg

 

The only word needing explanation here simply reads "grivennik"

 

 

 

EDIT: added more information for people who don't speak Russian. (Personally I only speak "coins" when it comes to Russian)

Edited by Steve D'Ippolito

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Steve and squirrel ,

 

Great coins, small silver coins of Peter I one of most interesting period of Russian numismatics.

 

Rarenum.

 

 

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I think it is interesting that the Cyrillic dating on coins kind of lingered for awhile after Arabic numerals made their appearance on some denominations. The whole story of Petr reforming the coinage is fascinating, given that he had meeting with Sir Isaac Newton - then master of the Royal Mint in London during his visit there. I have to believe that Newton somehow informally influenced the changes to the monetary system in Russia - but nobody has pinpointed an a-ha situation where you can make a direct connection. Wire kopeks are kind of cool as novelties, but you sure have to appreciate the momentous change for modernisation when they were eliminated and the new kopeks, altyns, denezhka, etc came out.

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I think it is interesting that the Cyrillic dating on coins kind of lingered for awhile after Arabic numerals made their appearance on some denominations. The whole story of Petr reforming the coinage is fascinating, given that he had meeting with Sir Isaac Newton - then master of the Royal Mint in London during his visit there. I have to believe that Newton somehow informally influenced the changes to the monetary system in Russia - but nobody has pinpointed an a-ha situation where you can make a direct connection. Wire kopeks are kind of cool as novelties, but you sure have to appreciate the momentous change for modernisation when they were eliminated and the new kopeks, altyns, denezhka, etc came out.

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Many aspects of the transition were deliberately gradual... there were coins issued in the denomination of "ten dengas" rather than "five kopeks" which would be more logical given that part of the reform was to make the kopek, rather than the denga, the "important" small denomination. (I was about to launch into a longer explanation of what I mean by this but I realized I did it in my first post.) The transition from Cyrillic to Arabic dating was handled similarly, it was pretty much done in a random-seeming way so that people could see coins of both types circulating together. There were even cases of copper polushkas (1/4 kopeks) with mixed dates: 17К = 1720 and 17К1 = 1721.

 

Another aspect of this which was not gradual was the change in the calendar, which happened abruptly enough that there is almost no trace of it in the reform coinage. Before 1700 the year started September 1st and was on the old system allegedly dating from the creation of the world; 1700 was rendered 7208. Any reform coinage you are likely to have in your collection will be a post-reform date. That is, unless your name is "Hermitage", for there is a unique pattern poltina (half ruble) from 1699 which is essentially the first coin of the reform (you could think of it as equivalent to the Contursi silver dollar), and it was dated 207 in Cyrillic (Σ = 200, З = 7. Σ is simply an older style rendering of С that recalls Cyrillic's origins in the Greek alphabet). The thousands "digit" was omitted as was customary before the calendar reform--it is not omitted in post-reform Cyrillic dated coins. The pattern itself is unique in the trivial sense but it is also unique as the only reform coin dated under the old calendar.

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Here is another example of 1718 ALTYN (3 KOPEKS) that I prize in my collection:

 

1014469.jpg

 

All these small silver coins are quickly becoming rare commodities.

 

Here is another one, more common 1704 ALTYN (3 KOPEKS):

 

1014466.jpg

 

Steve D'Ippolito I'd love to see the 1699 (7207) half rouble you are talking about!!!

 

Here is an answer from another forum:

 

There were no genuine 1699 coins. In 1870 there were 3 Novodels made from original dies. One kept by a State Historical Museum, the second kept in the Hermitage, the third in a private collection. In 1890 Julius Iversen, while he was the chief curator of the numismatic collection of the Hermitage privately made several other remakes of these coin. The original poltina dies have survived and now are kept a special repository of the State Historical Museum.

  • post-21263-0-14716600-1355209466_thumb.jpg
  • post-21263-0-89275200-1355209470_thumb.jpg

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