Tag Archives: commemorative

Russia: 50 kopek 1899 + Bonus

Nikolaj II Romanov was the emperor (czar) of Russia between 1894 and 1917, during the last period of the Russian Empire. Nikolaj was the father of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who according to legend would have survived the execution on her family, but this has been disproven.

This is a beautiful silver coin with the czar himself and the towheaded eagle – a symbol of the Russian Empire. Post-USSR the eagle is once again used as a symbol of Russia but now without the crowns, the spire and the globus cruciger. Nikolaj looks very secure on the coin, there’s and aura about him that radiates “good leader”. In 1899 this may have been the way that the world saw him as well. But that would change. Nikolaj were to be the last czar. He would bring the Russian Empire to its end.

First of all I need to mention the war with Japan (1904-1905). The war mainly concerned the region of Manchuria (present day China and Russia) and the Russians thought that it would be an easy victory against the undeveloped Asians. However Japan was developed – a result of major economic changes during the 19th century. Japan won and marked the first victory of an “undeveloped” country against one of Europe’s superpowers. Russia’s prestige was diminished and so was Nikolaj’s.

Internal problems continued in Russia. The population mainly consisted of farmers, people who lived tough lives with little help from the ruling classes. Tension continued to stir with different organizations defying the czar’s rule.

In 1914 Russia was a part of the entente, an alliance also consisting of Great Britain and France, whom stood against the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) during what would be known as the Great War and later (at the time of WWII) as the First World War. Russia was an early looser with the powers of Germany overpowering it. This was yet again a disaster, but of a grander scale. The war took place in the motherland and the Russians were losing. The already low standard of living decreased, there was food shortage and millions of soldiers were lost in battle. Uprisings started in the larger cities among workers and together with deserters of the Russian army the czar was forced to abdicate. This was the result of the February revolution (in March according to the Gregorian calendar) 1917.

A provisional government was formed but this too would have to step down. During the October revolution (in November) the Bolsheviks (translated to “men of the majority”) managed to get power by another military uprising. The Bolsheviks was a result of the misery in Russia and they shared a communist ideology – calling for an end of a society divided by class with an ambition of collectivizing ownership. The new Russian ruler quickly made peace with Germany, resulting in the loss of large areas. Their new system was put to use and the royal family, with Nikolaj and Anastasia, was executed. A civil war started together with a witch hunt on wealthy people and landowners.

Russia’s new leader was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the rebels since the turn of the century. He was a vital part in turning Russia yet again to a super power, but now as a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

This Soviet 1 ruble coin is commemorating the year when Lenin would have turned 100 years (1970).

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United Kingdom: 2£ 2009

Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, was born in 1809. This 2£ coin was minted in 2009 commemorating the birth of this very important scientist. The obverse side features Elizabeth II who’s been queen since 1952. The reverse side features Charles Darwin face to face with, the origin or our species, a chimpanzee. Of course, humans haven’t evolved from chimpanzees but according to Darwin’s theory we and other primates share the same ancestors. Darwin and his theory were despised during his lifetime and it wasn’t until the 20th century that his ideas were taken seriously – when they became the truth.

This coin was one of the first ones I managed to get my hands on during my visit to London earlier this year. And later during my stay there I met Darwin again – now as a huge statue inside the Natural History Museum.

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Sweden: 1 krona 2009

This coin is quite common in circulation here in Sweden. It’s the latest coin minted in Sweden (apart from the silver/gold “wedding coins” from 2010).

This coin features King Carl XIV Gustaf of Sweden just like the normal 1 krona, but the other side is different. In 2009 it was 200 years since Sweden got separated from Finland and it is this that the coin commemorates.

Finland was basically a part of the Swedish kingdom from the 13th century throughout the days of the grand Swedish empire until 1809 marking the definite end of Sweden’s days as a greater power in Europe. Finland was lost to the archenemy, Russia, and it was a huge defeat. This was not like losing a distant colony; this was a part of the motherland which was taken away – causing a huge political crisis in Sweden. From a Finnish perspective the separation was both negative and positive. Culturally the Finnish people were more connected with Sweden (a lot of them spoke Swedish as their native language). However, Finland would get the status as an autonomic grand duchy within the Russian empire thus taking one step towards independence.

This coin is not commemorating the separation as something regretful; instead it salutes the friendship shared between the two countries since the separation. The text on the reverse side translates into “The wonderful tale of a country on the other side of the ocean” and the stripes symbolize the sea and the sky between Sweden and Finland. The text is from Anton Rosell’s book Studiebesök i Finland from 1857.

It’s a beautiful coin in both design and symbolism.

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