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Cased Alexander III Silver Medal -- What Is It?


Chuck In Oregon
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I bought this cased medal on a whim, thinking that I have enough references at home that it wouldn't be a problem to ID it. If nowhere else, it's bound to be in E. S. Shchukina's Two Centuries of Russian Medals. As it turns out, that book isn't nearly as comprehensive as I'd thought and it doesn't include this medal. At least, not that I can find.

These kinds of medals are not an area of particular interest for me, although I buy them from time to time. This one isn't mint but it isn't bad. It would be close if someone hadn't tried to clean it sometime along the way. But still, not a bad example.

I think the reverse is "Excellence in Marine Navigation" or something like that. To my uneducated eye it has strong Greek influences. The helmet, the toga-like uniform (sorry, I just don't have the words), the staff, the wreath and especially the strange little owl. I have a couple of Athenian Owl coins and it reminds me of them. The reverse could have been lifted straight off of an ancient Greek coin.

One on-line reference mentions the 1830 Russian "liberation of Orthodox Greece" in passing but I am completely ignorant of that subject or of how it might relate.

If you know what this is, and especially if you can point me to a reference, I would appreciate it. Maybe it's in one of my books but if it is I have completely missed it.

Chuck

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  • 5 years later...

Hello Chuck

Medal "For Distinction in navigation" was established 12. February 1830 by the decree of Nicholas I . This medal is awarded for the period up to the reign of Nicholas II.

Medals awarded to the skippers and navigators of the Merchant navy who have served at least 12 years. It was also necessary to visit not less than six voyages to distant foreign ports.

Medals were made ​​of gold or silver. Diameter - 41 mm. On the obverse side of the coin features a portrait of the emperor , who reigned during the ceremony.

Very rare beastie you have there Chuck!! :)

Best Regards

A.D.

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AD and Paul, thank you very much. I am, once again, very impressed by you both. This medal has been a mystery for me since I bought it. Both of you mentioned its rarity and that is a real bonus. I've never seen one for sale so I don't have any idea as to its value. I did see an acknowledged fake online and boy, was it ever ugly in comparison.

Maritime isn't a particular interest of mine so it's just been sitting in a drawer since I posted it in 2008. Looks like I just got lucky with this purchase.

I love this site.

Chuck

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Chuck

I have checked auction records and I can confirm that neither a silver or gold specimen has turned up for sale in the last 13 years, bronze novodels (official restrikes of the late 19th century) do turn up from time to time of the Nicholas I and Alexander II issues and make a few hundred dollars, however an original silver striking such as yours would be worth many times more and would elicit quite a bit of interest from the Russian collecting fraternity.

Paul

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Chuck

I have checked auction records and I can confirm that neither a silver or gold specimen has turned up for sale in the last 13 years, bronze novodels (official restrikes of the late 19th century) do turn up from time to time of the Nicholas I and Alexander II issues and make a few hundred dollars, however an original silver striking such as yours would be worth many times more and would elicit quite a bit of interest from the Russian collecting fraternity.

Paul

And with the case! I would imagine that the case only increases the desirability. From the rarity and the lack of recent auction comparisons, this sounds like an example were even the most gifted auction estimate could be short when two, or more, determined bidders go for it.

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Very lucky, indeed. Chris, you're absolutely right. I mean it when I say that I'm the luckiest guy I ever knew.

Claudius, this talk of rarity and value absolutely amazes me. I have, until now, owned only one positively rare item and few truly scarce ones. Never thought there would be another rarity. I can't say that I'm not pleased but this may be an item that is too valuable to keep. Certainly, no one in my family will ever want it or most anything else that I value, but that's another story.

Really, this medal has just been sitting around, unidentified, in my man cave for years. Now I'll have to decide what to do with it. There are worse problems, I suppose.

Thanks again and if anyone else has any more information or opinions I'll be glad to hear them.

Chuck

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@Chuck -My opinion comes from the observations I’ve had when truly rare items are in auctions. I’m always fascinated when a knowledgeable and experienced auction house sets a bid minimum and then the hammer price is 3x, 5x or even 10x that opening bid. (I just witnessed that in a recent auction, but that is another story.)

Whether you feel this is too valuable to keep is -and always was -your decision.

I do know that if you ever feel that way about other Russian pilot groups you have I know someone who could help you there. :love:

PS: Understand what you mean about family interest in the collection. Mine too.

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  • 1 month later...

Paul Wood has had a chance to examine this piece in person. He offers the following opinion which, for me, will be definitive:

The Navigation medal is unfortunately an electrotype, the obverse is inserted into a core containing the reverse and the rim and also it does not ring correctly as one would expect an original silver piece to do. It is quite likely, especially given the case, it was made during the Czarist period and may will have been made for display purposes, the electrotype would have been taken from an original example and therefore would not be distinguishable from such in an image. Unfortunately as such it is going to be of quite small value

I had not previously heard of such a copy but that means nothing. I am grateful that Paul took the time to examine it and offer his opinion.

Paul also has two of my other things in hand for the Morton and Eden July 2 sale. Getting them to him was not without its difficulties but he has them, has catalogued them and already shown them to some potential bidders. I'm excited about the prospects and I'll let you know more as things progress. I intend to send more for his December sale.

Chuck

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