A group of rare silver Tsarist coins in extraordinary condition has been discovered among a large cache of otherwise mainly unremarkable coinage by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden
. The 39 coins, struck during the reign of Alexander I, could raise as much as £100,000 when they are offered for sale on June 10.
They were found by Jeremy Cheek when he was sifting through hundreds of small old envelopes of coins sent for appraisal by a descendant of an eastern European family whose members had emigrated to the West many years ago.
Most was worn common coinage of low commercial value, but one envelope contained what appears to be part of a set of silver kopecks of different dates and face values struck by Tsar Alexander I who ruled as Emperor of Russia from 1801 until his death in 1825. The coins are small, ranging from 14mm to 22mm (0.55-0.87 inches) in diameter.
I was really surprised to find them in an otherwise fairly ordinary group of coins, Mr Cheek said, and moreover I was astonished by their condition. Clearly they have never been in circulation. Their origin remains a mystery. Each coin is a different variety, there being no duplication, and yet there are no apparent records of such a set having been issued.
Given their exceptional state of preservation, it was felt the coins should be officially graded for their condition to be fully appreciated by collectors. They were sent to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) whose specialists inspected each coin individually. Coins are graded on a scale up to MS70, MS standing for Mint State.
Most of the coins were rated at MS64 or above, five of them at MS66.
The group also includes coins with extremely rare dates. A 10 kopecks of 1803 is the most valuable. It was graded at MS65 on the PCGS scale and is estimated at £15,000-20,000. A 5 kopecks of 1812 (MS64), is estimated at £8,000-12,000, and a 5 kopecks of 1825 (also MS64), is estimated at £6,000-8,000.
The sale on June 10 will be held at Sothebys London saleroom.