Ivan IV, “the Terrible” (1533-1584 - as ruler)
Ivan IV

Ivan IV, popularly known as “Ivan the Terrible,” a strong and formidable ruler. The epithet “Terrible” is in fact a mistranslation from the Russian-language word “Groznyi” which in reality means “stern,” “formidable,” “feared by enemies.” Ivan’s long reign was marked by violent internal conflict and a series of wars against many foreign foes sparked by his desire to expand Muscovy’s frontiers, especially along and beyond the Volga river and to the Baltic seacoast in the west.

The Reform of 1534

In 1534 a unified Russian monetary system made its first appearance, facilitated by the formation of a strong Russian state centered in Moscow. The currency reform was instituted by Elena Glinskaya, mother of Ivan IV.

Coinage technique

From the 14th century up till Peter the Great's time the minting technique of the silver coinage was as follows: silver was rolled into wire and sliced into equal sections of the proper weight. Little plates of slightly oval shape resulted. Relatively standard weight of the coins was achieved. The coins were struck by being placed between dies at which point the operator would hammer the upper die against the lower die. In 1704 the first Russian rubles were coined in Moscow. One hundred kopecks made a ruble.


1 kopeck piece depicting a rider with a lance (kopie) thrust downward, copied from a Lithuanian pattern. This motif can be seen in many examples of Russian coinage up to the nineteenth century.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery


1 silver kopeck piece.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery