Astarte S. A., Lugano

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29-10-2009 – 01-01-1970

Auction sales 20 and 21

A sensational range of offers of Russian coin rarities concluded the day of the Astarte S. A. company sale at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville in Zurich. The hammer price of 3,2 Mio. Swiss Francs including buyers’ fee exceeded many times the total estimate of 600.000 Swiss Francs for all 142 coins of sale 21 entitled “A Collection of Russian Coins”. As many as 34 lots reached five figure sums, nine lots even six-figure ones! Buying interest was so high that most of the pieces found a new owner only for a price three to five times and often even ten times their estimate.
In the morning the preceding auction sale 20 had been held including a nice selection of ancient to modern pieces from all over the world. As was to be expected, the two rare bronze medallions of Lucilla and Commodus ranked among the highlights and reached CHF 37.000 and 105.000 (estimate: CHF 35.000 and 100.000, respectively). A very rare thaler of Albrecht von Wallenstein which was struck in Friedland in 1630 was sold for CHF 30.000 and therewith exceeded its estimate of CHF 2.000 fifteen times whereas a szostak of the Polish king Sigismund I from Gda Normal 0 21 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 nsk made in 1535 brought even 60 times its estimate (CHF 750 / 45.000) – this really was an adequate attunement for the sale of Russian coins!
Already the second number of the catalogue, a 2 rouble piece of Catherine I of Russia produced in the Red mint at Moscow in 1726, caused a surprise: although estimated at CHF 7.000 the gavel went down at CHF 75.000, i.e. almost ten times the estimated price.
Another 2 rouble piece, this time of Peter II of Russia made in the same mint in 1727, even brought CHF 93.000 (estimate: CHF 10.000). The magic threshold of CHF 100.000 was exceeded by the next coin, a ducat of Peter II of Russia from 1729 auctioned for CHF 135.000 (estimate: CHF 15.000).
An extremely rare 2 ducat piece from the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna, from the year 1749 to be more specific, rose to CHF 160.000 after being estimated at CHF 10.000. A ducat of Paul I of Russia, made in Saint Petersburg in 1796, exceeded its estimate of CHF 7.000 more than seventeen times: it was sold for CHF 120.000. Two patterns even brought CHF 180.000 – each, that is: first, a pattern of a silver rouble of Alexander I from 1801 and, second, a pattern of 10 roubles from the time of Nicholas I, from the year 1836 (estimate: CHF 15.000 and 35.000, respectively).
But the best was still to come: a silver pattern of the famous “family rouble” of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia with a mintage of no more than 150 pieces climbed up to incredible CHF 200.000 (estimate: CHF 70.000) only to leave the title of “sale’s bestseller” to a 25 rouble piece of Alexander II from 1876 which yielded the highest result of the sale: CHF 220.000 (estimate: CHF 60.000).
An almost inconspicuous polushka of the same Tsar, struck in Yekaterinburg in 1860, bore testimony to the fact that not only gold and silver coins were much sought-after. Due to its rarity and its exquisite grade of preservation the estimate of CHF 500 was soon forgotten: the gavel went down at CHF 11.500.
Last highlight of the sale was a 25 rouble piece of the last Tsar Nicholas II made in Saint Petersburg in 1896 reaching as many as CHF 165.000.
In sum, it was a sale of superlatives. More results, together with illustrations and catalogue descriptions, can be viewed on the internet, at

No. 132: ROME. Commodus, 177-192. AE medallion, 185. Rev. Emperor as Hercules. Gnecchi p. 60. 79 with pl. Taf. 83. 6. Very rare. Brillant uncirculated.
CHF 100.000 / 105.000

No. 413: POLAND. Sigismund I the Old, 1506-1548. Szostak 1535, Gda?sk. Kopicki 7338. Rare. Extremely fine.
CHF 750 / 45.000

No. 1110: RUSSIA. Alexander II, 1855-1881. 25 roubles 1876, Saint Petersburg. Bitkin 565. Extremely rare. PF.
CHF 60.000 / 220.000

No. 1117: Russia. Alexander II, 1855-1881. Poluschka 1860 EM, Ekaterinburg. Bitkin 384. Extremely rare. Almost uncirculated.
CHF 500 / 11.500