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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton IX, Lot: 2098. Estimate $750. 
Closing Date: Monday, 9 January 2006. 
Sold For $1600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

RUSSIA. Alexander I. 1801-1825. Æ Proof "Ruble". Soho in Birmingham mint, Conrad Küchler, sculptor. Dated 1804. Bronzed copper trial piece. ALEXANDER I. D : G • IMP • AVTOCR • RVSSOR •, cuirassed and draped bust right; C.H. KUCHLER. Fc. below / Shaded cross, 18 04 below. Bitkin -; Uzdenikov -; Severin 2552; KM Pn65. In PCGS slab, graded PF65. ($750)

In 1797 Matthew Boulton of the Soho mint signed an agreement with the Russian government to design, construct and manage a modern steam-powered mint in St. Petersburg. It would take ten years to complete the project, beset as it was by corrupt imperial bureaucrats, harsh Russian weather and intense personal animus among the English mint technicians sent to oversee the construction of the mint and preparation of the machinery. The 1804 crown sized trial pieces struck at Birmingham were intended as teaching aids for the Russian engravers who were training in the new technology. They are not a formal pattern coin for a proposed ruble currency, as they are sometimes taken to be. The two specimens being offered here show that these trial pieces were struck in copper and bronzed copper, as were many of the Soho mint products.