The first commemorative to be released by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is always a pleasure. Their coins are well struck, often well-designed, occasionally quite superb. We also look forward to them winning the competition (every year!) for the longest coin title. With such gems as “The Year of the Russian Federation in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Year of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Russian Federation”, “The Temple of Virgin’s Icon “Joy to All the Lamenting” of the Dalmat Saint Assumption Monastery, Kurgan Region” and our own favourite, “The 70th Anniversary of the Crushing Defeat of the German-Fascist Troops by the Soviet Troops in the Battle of Stalingrad” (also wins an award for subtlety…), there’s never a dull moment with the CBR.
This new coin is part of the Architectural Monuments of Russia series, of which there have been a staggering 32 in the last four years alone, so we don’t expect this to be the only entrant this year. We’d hoped to tell you a bit more about the Shaonin Temple, but Google seemed to want to tell us about the latest Donnie Yen movie, or how to plan a Bruce Lee moviethon. Finding out interesting things about Karachay-Cherkessia, might’ve been quite good as well, but these are not well travelled subjects outside of a bit of geography. Suffice to say, what images we’ve seen of the place look quite breathtaking, straddling the Caucasus Mountains as it does and including the beautiful Mount Elbrus, mountains cover 80% of the country. With 172 rivers, 130 mountain lakes and rainfall in the mountains of up to 2.5m, I doubt anybody ever died of thirst there. Having gold around is also a nice bonus.
The coin depicts the temple sat in the mountains (We think. Given the dearth of actual temple images they could put Cinderellas castle on the reverse and we’d be none the wiser). It’s a decent design, but not a stand-out one in my opinion, we’ve definitely seen more interesting designs from this excellent coin issuer. The obverse is as superb as ever, the brilliant Russian double-headed eagle taking centre-stage. Struck in 33.94 g of sterling silver, this means the pure silver content remains at the standard 31.1g (a troy ounce). Limited to 3,000 pieces, these are quite hard to get hold of, but some German dealers stock them, like TopWorldCoins for example. We don’t think these ship with either a box or a Certificate of Authenticity, although we’d love to be enlightened otherwise.