On 24th March 2019, a rare and beautiful medal (300 grams of gold) marking the 1896 visit to Paris by Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, sold at auction for nearly €90,000 ($100,000 USD) at the Hôtel des Ventes de la Seine auction house in Rouen, France.
The gold medal was struck on 7th October 1896, on the occasion of the visit of Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra to the Monnaie de Paris (Mint) with the president of the French Republic Felix Faure.
In competition were six buyers, all bidding over the telephone. Under the hammer of Mr. Guillaume Cheroyan, the object was sold to an annoymous Swiss buyer, for the tidy sum of € 73,000 (€ 89,060 with fees), and selling for more than double its initial estimate, set at € 30,000.
The profiles of the Imperial couple are engraved on the front by the famous Jules-Clément Chaplain. Only two copies of this diplomatic gift were made, one presented to Emperor Nicholas II, the second to President Felix Faure.
Its provenance, however, remains a mystery. “We are not certain,” admitted Cheroyan, however, he was optimistic that his hammer fell on one of the two copies presented to Nicholas II. Cheroyan noted that the seller – a local numismatist – had reported to the auctioneer that the medal had belonged to an émigré Russian aristocrat. “One can then imagine that, after Lenin nationalized the personal property of the Imperial family, that the Bolsheviks sold as many items as possible.”
This did not prevent him from sending an email to the Kremlin, to inform the Russian government of the sale of this 300 gold gram piece of Imperial Russia’s history.
© Paul Gilbert. 26 March 2019
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