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Buying Gold Bullion - Part II

Russia has consistently produced about a hundred tons of gold every year since the early 1980s, creating a wealth of material to satisfy markets that are hungry for buying gold bullion.

The Lure of Russian Gold

Since the 5 and 10 ruble, 90% gold coins of Czar Alexander II abruptly ceased production in 1917, there had not been a Russian gold coin available for those buying gold bullion until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since that time, with very little disruption in the ability to mine gold suitable for bullion coins in steady quantities, the Russian Federation continues to release a small number of gold coins that are chiefly available to those in North America from European brokers.

The Soviets released a 10 ruble gold Chervonetz coin for a decade from the 1975, weighing just under ¼-ounce (.2489-ounce) of pure gold, and lasting until 1982. The coins were a reproduction of those issued by the original Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) as it existed from 1917-1923, issued in two separate series.

Very few of the historical coins remain, making them very collectible for those making a gold bullion investment for numismatic value, but a fair number of the post-modern re-issues are still available for those who invest in gold bullion. This Chervonetz design has made a comeback in the form of a 10 ruble gold Chervonetz coin in late 2008, as issued from the Moscow and St. Petersburg mints.

Recent issues from the Russian mint are focused on 99.99% pure gold, more suitable for gold bullion investing and, are typically found in “fractional” denominations. For example the European Beaver series of 2008 features several silver coins and a single ¼-ounce specimen for those who prefer to buy gold. Buying gold bullion from Russia can be complicated, and may be best handled through a bank, but prices near spot can often be found with new coins.

A 250,000 ruble coin, with 3-kg of pure gold, was also released in 2008 to commemorate the 190th anniversary of the Russian Mint, as administered by the Central Russian Bank. Only 50 of the coins were produced, with an image of St. Petersburg on the obverse and an emblem of the Russian Bank on the reverse. It is unknown how many of these coins have made it to the “west,” but like much of the world, Russian gold imports have dropped off dramatically since late 2008.

For several years, the “investment” grade coin issued by the Bank of Russia has been the Victorious Saint George coin, with the canonized Slav shown putting a pike through a small “dragon” while on horseback gracing the obverse. The reverse is a standard double-headed eagle. These coins are also 99.99% pure gold and contain 7.78g (roughly ¼-ounce), crafted by the National Artist of Russia, A.V. Baklanov.

In addition to these investment-grade coins, the Mint of Russia has produced several larger gold coin releases, up to 1-kg, also in 99.99% pure gold. However, just like other mints around the world, demand for current and historical gold has been many times in excess of normal levels since 2008, as concerns about currencies such as the Russian ruble mount as the Moscow stock market continues to plunge, having already last about 70% of its value in less than six-months.

Buying gold bullion from a democratic Russia is certainly much easier than finding gold Soviet coins before the 1990s. While the flood of Imperial and Soviet-era coins that accompanied the transition to a more solid currency after the 1991 revolution has slowed, investment in gold continues strong from both domestic and international sources.

Article Archive

Joseph Morton

March 17, 2009

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