One of the coolest of the worlds bullion coins, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) issued St. George the Victorious coin made its gold debut on 01 February 2006 with the silver following on 11 January 2009. It’s never been one of the easiest coins to get hold off outside of Russia, with eBay being the best bet for many, but it’s widely liked for its classic and clean design, devoid of superfluous inscription or decoration. Depicting a striking, stylistic pose of St George, mounted on horseback with a spear piercing a prone dragon, it’s the same for both the ¼ oz gold and the 1 oz silver coins. The obverse carries the superb double-headed eagle that adorns Russian commemorative coins from the CBR. Both are the work of A. V. Baklanov, although the superb Bank of Russia eagle on the obverse is based on the work of Russian artist Ivan Bilibin in 1917.
Unlike most of the world’s major bullion coins, the release schedule for the St George the Victorious is a little spotty to say the least and mintages vary wildly. There were no gold coins issued in 2011, 2013, 2014, or 2016 and since it’s launch in 2009, the silver has simply not appeared four times, from 2011-2014. Both were said to have been put on hold while the mint was designing and issuing multiple coin series for the horrendously expensive Sochi Winter Olympics back in 2014, but given it’s a pre-existing design, we find that hard to swallow as a valid reason. Whatever the reasons, both the gold and silver coins reappeared carrying a 2015 date. Both were listed as having a maximum mintage of 500,000 units, but just 30,000 gold and 100,000 silver were produced.
A proof gold version was released in 2012, but that hasn’t been repeated in either gold or silver since. A silver proof version in particular would, we imagine, be warmly recieved, especially in a five-ounce or bigger variant.
A fine coin that deserves a much wider audience than it currently has. Hopefully the 2015 relaunch will see the coin move to a more regular annual release, and some bigger silver variants would be a cool addition. The premiums on these are a little too high for the hardcore stacker, but every collector should have one of these in their collection in our opinion. A timeless classic, quintessentially Russian in the same way that the Eagle is American and the Britannia is British.
REVERSE: the image of Saint George the Victorious sitting on horseback and spearing a dragon.
GOLD OBVERSE: in the centre – the emblem of the Bank of Russia [the two-headed eagle with wings down, under it – the semicircular inscription “БАНК РОССИИ” (BANK OF RUSSIA)] framed by a circle of dots and inscriptions along the rim – on top: “ПЯТЬДЕСЯТ РУБЛЕЙ” (FIFTY RUBLES), below: to the left – indications of the precious metal and its fineness, in the centre – the year of issue “2015 г.” (2015), to the right – the fine metal content and the mint trade mark.
SILVER OBVERSE: in the centre – the emblem of the Bank of Russia [the two-headed eagle with wings down, under it – the semicircular inscription “БАНК РОССИИ” (BANK OF RUSSIA)] framed by a circle of dots and inscriptions along the rim – on top: “ТРИ РУБЛЯ” (THREE RUBLES), below: to the left – indications of the precious metal and its fineness, in the centre – the year of issue “2015 г.” (2015), to the right – the fine metal content and the mint trade mark.
ARTIST/SCULPTOR: A.V. Baklanov, National Artist of Russia.
MINT: Moscow and Saint Petersburg Mints (ММД and СПМД).
EDGE: 300 corrugations.
2016 ONWARDS REVISED OBVERSE
For the 2016 issue of the silver coin, the obverse was changed to a newer design featuring a variant of the Russian Federation Coat of Arms used on their commemorative issues. The inscriptions are a little busier and not as well placed, but the Russian double-headed eagle design is quite beautiful, reeking of history.
This newer design is by CBR regular artist E.V. Kramskaya (sculpted by A.A. Dolgopolova), as opposed to the original that was by the same artist that undertook the reverse face, A.V. Baklanov, National Artist of Russia. For 2016 the coin was struck only at the Saint Petersburg Mint, as opposed to some earlier years that were struck there and at the Moscow Mint.
MINTS DESCRIPTION: in the centre – the relief image of the National Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation, over it – the semicircular inscription along the rim: “РОССИЙСКАЯ ФЕДЕРАЦИЯ” (RUSSIAN FEDERATION), framed on both sides by doubled rhombuses, below under the coat of arms: to the left – indications of the precious metal and its fineness, to the right – the fine metal content and the mint trade mark, at the bottom in the centre, in three lines – the inscription: “БАНК РОССИИ” (BANK OF RUSSIA), the denomination of the coin: “3 РУБЛЯ” (3 RUBLES), the year of issue: “2016 г.” (2016).
2012 LIMITED GOLD PROOF
On 01 August 2012, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation issued two higher quality gold coins, one 7.78g (¼oz) “50 rubles” coin and another 15.55g (½oz) coin of “100 rubles”. Both were struck to a proof finish in 0.999 fineness gold.
The latter coin has the same design but greater diameter and thickness. There are 240 corrugations on the edge of the coin compared to 134 corrugations are on the edge of the smaller 50 rubles coins.
They’re quite sought after and carry a healthy premium. The mintage of each version was capped at 10,000 pieces. Sadly there’s no sign of a silver proof variant. The aftermarket has catered with options of coloured, gilded and plated variants, but that market is currently awash with masses of poor and ill conceived product so caveat emptor as they say. The ruthenium and gold plated Shades of Enigma variant is probably the best of them.
|DENOMINATION||COMPOSITION||WEIGHT||DIAMETER||FINISH||MINTAGE||BOX / COA|
|3 RUBLES||0.999 SILVER||31.50 g||39.00 mm||UNC||variable||NO / NO|
|50 RUBLES||0.999 GOLD||7.78 g||22.60 mm||UNC||variable||NO / NO|