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Coins and Medals of Imperial Russia: Medals and Commemorative Pieces

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Medals and Commemorative Pieces

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1725 bronze mortuary piece depicting the recently deceased Peter the Great, in Latin, with the proud inscription “Petrus Magn. – Imp. Utriusq. Russ.” -which translates to the rather unusual usage of “Peter the Great – Emperor of Both Russias” [Great and Little Russia, corresponding to modern day Russia and Ukraine].

The other side of the medal likewise trumpets his legacy as a ruler “Great on both land and sea”.

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.351

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1739 commemorative medal struck to celebrate the signing of a peace treaty by the Empress Anna with the Ottoman Empire, 7 September 1739.
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.347

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Medal showing portrait of Empress Anna (1730-1740), “Famous in both war and peace.”

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.344

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1754 commemorative piece depicting the Empress Elizabeth, praising the Empress for supporting the Serbs in their struggle against the Ottoman Turks.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.346

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 20 September 1754 medal struck to commemorate the birth of the Empress Elizabeth’s nephew, Paul. The Empress was childless and Paul later became Czar from 1796 to 1801.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.345

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1771 medal for Count Aleksei Grigor’evich Orlov (1737-1808), celebrating the conquest of the Crimea and southern Ukraine, taken from the Ottoman Turks.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.348

Count Orlov was a naval hero and General-in-Chief of the Russian armed forces. The medal proclaims the successful development of the region by the Russians, illustrated by a map of the area.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Medal struck to commemorate the service of Ivan Ivanovich Betskoi, prominent educator, (1704?-1795), commending him for his patriotism, from the Russian Senate, 20 November 1772.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.349

Betskoi, who served under Russian rulers in a variety of capacities for over three quarters of a century, is best known as the designer of a system of state education incorporating the principles of the Enlightenment. Working closely with Empress Catherine II (the Great), he planned, established and supervised a number of educational institutions, including the Moscow Foundling House, the Community of Noble Girls at the Smol’nyi Convent, the gymnasium at the Academy of Arts and the reorganized Cadet Corps.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail A medal showing both sides, struck by Catherine the Great in 1780. The first piece depicts the Empress and the second piece has the inscription in Latin, “Mare Liberum” – which means “Free Seas”.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of C. Wyllys Betts
2001.87.342

This refers to Catherine’s Declaration of Armed Neutrality of February 28, 1780, the goal of which was to preserve the struggling but ever-increasing Russian commerce on the high seas from the depredations of the warring British, Spanish, French and American navies during the American Revolutionary War. Proclaiming principles that free ships make free goods and that contraband be given a narrow definition, Catherine invited the leading maritime nations not involved in the war to enforce their rights by banding together in a neutral confederation. All the major non-belligerents did so, with the result that the warring parties were compelled to recognize the rights of neutrals for the duration of the war. Great Britain, as the possessor of the most powerful fleet, was most adversely affected by the Declaration.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1788 medal commemorating the distinguished service of Admiral Samuil Karlovich Greig (1735-1788).
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Dr. W. Gilman Thompson
2001.87.341

Greig was Admiral of the Russian Fleet from 1782 until his death in 1788. Greig was born in Scotland and was in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years War of 1756-1763. Due to a program of cutting expenditures, he found himself unemployed after the war and at the age of 29, along with several other British officers who had lost their jobs, he went to St. Petersburg to serve in the Russian navy. Greig quickly rose in rank and commanded a squadron of Russian ships in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean during Catherine the Great’s war against the Ottoman Empire. He participated in the great Russian victory at Chesma in July, 1770, at which time a Turkish fleet of nearly 200 vessels was almost totally destroyed. Catherine promoted him to rear admiral and then to vice admiral, conferred with him personally, awarded him the star of St. Alexander Nevskii and in 1782 made him an admiral. Grieg commanded the fleet of the Gulf of Finland during the conflict with Sweden in 1788. While holding the Swedish fleet at bay off Sveaborg in October, Greig fell ill, and died on October 15 (26 old style), 1788.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Commemorative medal depicting the September 1801 coronation of Alexander I in Moscow. Note the “A I” – for Alexander I.
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.279

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1828 commemorative piece in Latin, lauding Czar Nicholas I, and his victories in the Greek Independence war against the Ottoman Turks.
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.343

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1835 medal struck in remembrance of Mariia Fedorovna, wife of Czar Paul I (1796-1801) and mother of the Czars Alexander I (1801-1825) and Nicholas I (1825-1855). Mariia was much beloved by many of her subjects for her many services in founding charities and educational institutions.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.394

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Commemorative piece celebrating the marriage on April 16, 1841, of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna and the Grand Duke Alexander. Alexander ascended to the throne in 1855 as Czar Alexander II.
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.395

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1856 silver coronation piece of Czar Alexander II. “Koronovan vie Moskvie.”

Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
2001.87.252

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Commemorative piece celebrating Czar Alexander II’s liberation of the serfs, 19 February, 1861.

Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. G. L. Parker
2001.87.352

The Czar is depicted standing between and embracing a serf on his left and a nobleman on his right. All three are portrayed wearing old Russian costumes.

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail 1873 commemorative medal depicting the unveiling of the monument to Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg.
Collection of Coins and Medals
Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of Rev. William H. Owen
2001.87.246

coin thumbnail coin thumbnail Commemorative piece showing the last Czar and Czaritsa, Nicholas II (1894-1917) and Alexandra, on the occasion of their official visit to France, 5-9 October, 1896.
Collection of Coins and Medals, Yale University Art Gallery
Gift of E. B. Green
2001.87.350