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Coins and Medals of Imperial Russia: Catherine II

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Catherine II (1762-1796)

Portait of Catherine IICatherine was the wife of Czar Peter III, who was forced to hand over the throne to her. Catherine, a German princess from the small principality of Anhalt-Zerbst, was one of Russia’s greatest rulers. Her victorious wars against the Turks brought the Crimea and the Black Sea coast to Russia. She was the first to consult the population, at least in part, in the legislative commission of 1767. Catherine reorganized Russian local government and issued a charter of rights to the nobility. During her reign Enlightenment thought and culture reached their apogee in Russia, a process she personally encouraged. Her participation in the partitions of Poland brought most of the Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania into the Russian empire, ensuring Russia’s role as a major power.

Catherine had inherited Shuvalov’s plan to double the face value of the existing copper coinage and to reduce the fineness of the silver coinage. She firmly rejected the devaluation of the copper coinage and had Peter III’s already overstruck coppers overstruck again to restore them to their original value.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail1762 silver ruble, depicting the young Catherine.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.288

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail1762 silver ruble, showing the both sides.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.287

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail5 kopeck coin, minted in 1786, portraying a crown and the letter E, the first letter in Ekaterina (Russian for Catherine).
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.284

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail5 kopeck piece from 1788, showing the Romanov double-eagle.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.283

Three silver commemorative coins depicting various peace treaties:

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailThe first piece portrays a peace signed with the Ottoman Empire in 1774.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.338

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailThe second coin celebrates peace with the Turkish Porte in 1791

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.339

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailThe third coin commemorates a peace treaty with Sweden in 1790.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.337

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail2 kopeck piece from 1795 which shows a recurring motif – a rider with lance pointed downward, this time shown trampling a dragon.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.285

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailA grivennik from 1783. A grivennik equaled ten kopecks.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.289

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailA ten kopeck coin of 1774 from Siberia. Note the inscription in Cyrillic “Moneta sibirskaia”.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.282

coin thumbnail coin thumbnailA polushka, 1/4 kopeck, minted in 1789.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Eugene Schuyler
2001.87.286