Alexander II (1855-1881)
Alexander II
Portait of Alexander II
Alexander II came to the throne better prepared than any other nineteenth-century Russian emperor. He was a balanced, dutiful, hard-working man of essential goodwill. In 1861 he abolished the servitude of the Russian peasants, known as serfdom, in a decree that, although not wholly satisfying to either the nobles or the peasants, was probably the most statesmanlike possible at the time. Although at the beginning the peasants faced many difficulties in the new economic situation, within forty years they owned about 50% of Russian arable land – a better record than that of most countries that had instituted similar land reforms.

If one looks only at the rubles struck during the quarter-century of Alexander II’s reign, it would be easy to think that this period was fiscally and numismatically a stagnant time. In fact, there was a great deal of activity. The decades of the 1860’s and 1870’s saw half a dozen foreign and private Russian efforts to take over part of the empire’s coinage system, with French, German and Belgian offers to produce nickel subsidiary coins. The Paris Mint struck a substantial quantity of subsidiary Russian coins in 1861, using hubs from St. Petersburg. Copper coinage was reorganized in 1867, and in 1876 the Ekaterinburg mint, which had been in operation for 150 years, was closed down. The St. Petersburg Mint took up the slack and expanded its production correspondingly.

 

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Ruble from 1859, commemorating the unveiling of a statue of Alexander’s father on horseback, Nicholas I, in St. Petersburg, June 25, 1859.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.243

 

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Two pieces from 1861, the year that Alexander II decreed the abolition of serfdom, an act by which he became known as the “Czar-Liberator”. The first coin is a 2 kopecks piece.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.256

The second coin, 1 kopeck, shows the other side, with the inscription “A II”, for Alexander II.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.323

 
 

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5 kopecks coin of 1867 from St. Petersburg. Only 44 pieces of this specific type of coin from 1867 were struck. Portrayed is the Imperial double-eagle.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.255

 

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Faberge gold piece, announcing the opening of a Faberge store in St. Petersburg, 1875.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.336

Various copper kopecks:  

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5 kopecks (1874)

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.321

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3 kopecks (1867)

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of: Eugene Schuyler
2001.87.322

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2 kopecks (1867)

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.324

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1 kopeck (1867)

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.323

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½ kopeck

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.325

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½ kopeck

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Eugene Schuyler
2001.87.326

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¼ kopeck

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.261

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¼ kopeck

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Eugene Schuyler
2001.87.327

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