Ruble of Constantine

Who carefully studied the history of Russia, he immediately responds that King Constantine was not in it. So how could the ruble of Constantine, the emperor of all Rus, appear? Let's try to deal with this issue in more detail.

Ruble of Constantine in 1825

It is known that the Emperor Paul the First had four sons - Alexander, Constantine, Nikolai and Michael. The first after the murder of his father to the throne was Alexander, who became the "number one in the dynasty". The average brother Konstantin Pavlovich pursued a military career. He is a participant in the Italian campaign of A. Suvorov. From 1814 he served as commander-in-chief of the Polish army. Konstantin lived in Warsaw. In 1820, after the divorce of Anna Fedorovna, he was married to the Polish Countess of Grudzinska. It was believed that the marriage of the prince was unequal, and therefore scandalous and unacceptable. In 1823 Constantine renounced the right of succession to the throne. But on November 27, 1825, Alexander the First died. According to all the canons of the continuity of tsarist power, Constantine was to become the emperor. In St. Petersburg, without delay, an oath of allegiance to the new autocrat began. The urgent production of a portrait ruble with the profile of Constantine the First began. Work on the ruble of Constantine was conducted in great secrecy and even more haste. For this purpose, several medal workers worked round the clock. The work was headed by the famous master Jacob Reichel. On December 12, 1825, six test coins were minted at the mint. On the obverse of the ruble Constantine was placed the profile of the new emperor. The artist skillfully stressed his resemblance to the crowned father of Paul. The snub-nosed, bald-headed Constantine does not look either a hero or a luminary of the mind. Around the portrait there is an inscription: "B. M. Konstantin I imp. and himself. All Ross. 1825". On the arms of the royal eagle, surrounded by a wreath. Under the eagle a mint mark - St. Petersburg. Around the inscription: "Pure silver 4 gold. 21 share ". Between the beginning and the end of the inscription the word "ruble" is squeezed.

But nothing good happened. On the night of December 14, at a meeting of the State Council, heir Nikolai Pavlovich proclaimed himself emperor and appropriated "Number One" himself. In the capital, they began to take an oath to the new ruler. And immediately the Minister of Finance's venture was a seditious business, and therefore very dangerous. This was well understood by anyone who had anything to do with the mystery of the ruble of Constantine. Now it was necessary to hastily hide the traces of his immoderate zeal. It is noteworthy that the Minister of Finance himself not only ordered the destruction of trial coins and tools, but demanded them to himself, so that there was no doubt about whether they had done everything at the mint, whether someone had hidden a unique ruble.

In the Ministry of Finance, a box with seditious "known" rubles Constantine lay untouched for 54 years. In 1879, by order of Alexander II, he was seized, uncovered and coins handed over to the tsar. He shared them in a family way. One ruble of Constantine remained in the personal possession of the emperor (now he is in the Hermitage), one copy was presented to Grand Dukes Sergey Aleksandrovich and Georgy Mikhailovich. Another ruble of Constantine was sent to Darmstadt to Prince Alexander of Hesse. However, by the time the ruble Constantine was already quite famous among numismatists a rarity. Only in our time, based on archival materials, historians have fully explained the details of the appearance of the ruble of Constantine the First. As for Constantine himself, he remained a figure of color in Russian history. His refusal to claim the throne in the absence of a formal act of abdication in favor of his brother Nicholas created in the country the atmosphere of the interregnum, which the Decembrists tried to use. Konstantin himself died in 1831 from cholera.

Now we know six rubles Constantine with inscriptions, although they were made exactly eight. Five of them were sealed and sent to the Ministry of Finance in a box. One ruble of Constantine, although it was shown in the inventory, was not found in the package when it was opened. So someone who was related to the transfer, managed to hide it. Two more impressions on silver circles without a thick inscription in the period of turmoil were picked up by the medalist J. Reichel.

Of the first five coins, the "ruble of Constantine" three are in museums - the Hermitage, the State Historical Museum in Moscow and the Smithsonian Institution in the USA. The fourth coin went through an auction in 1898, and its whereabouts are still unknown. The fifth ruble of Constantine in October 1964 at an auction in Lucerne was sold for 11 650 dollars, and a year later in New York, resold for 41 thousand dollars and bought by an unknown European. Where he is now, no one knows from outsiders. There is no information about the sixth coin from the moment it did not enter the sealed box (or was secretly extracted from it later).