My Coin’s Story: The Journey of a 1758 2 Kopek

December 18, 2014 By ekr

**Every day this week we will highlight submissions from the My Coin’s Story Young writing contest. Young Numismatists were asked to write a historical fiction story based on a favorite coin. The winners will be revealed on the blog on Friday, Dec. 19. 

By Phillip Kadaev

Throughout history thousands of different coins have been produced in various regions throughout the world and at different periods of time. However, one coin in particular that has had a profuse amount of unique experiences and interactions throughout history is the 1758 two kopeck. The 1758 two kopeck not only has great aesthetic value and an alluring design, but it also has an intriguing history embedded in the former Russian capital of Saint Petersburg, which gives this coin great historical value. Therefore, the two kopeck exemplifies a coin that has great historical and cultural significance, because it not only has an aesthetically appealing design, but it also has had and will continue to have many fascinating encounters and experiences throughout its lifetime.


The royal monogram of Elizabeth I of Russia is depicted on the obverse of the coin with the imperial crown situated directly above it. On the reverse of the coin there is an elaborate image of the Saint George’s slaying of the dragon. The coin was once a lustrous copper color, but years of environmental exposure, have left only remnants of its past beauty visible. Only the outline of the intricate horseman still protrudes from the background, and the imperial monogram is evidently weathered by years of circulation and exposure to the environment. Furthermore, despite ubiquitous corrosion, the artistry of the design is still evident and it is still aesthetically appealing to the eye. The coin is relatively large weighing approximately 20.48 grams and with a diameter of 31.34 millimeters. Although the coin is only a mere shadow of its former self, it still possesses an aesthetic elegance that surmounts the corrosion and thus allows the coin to retain its natural allure.

The origins of this specific two kopek piece lie in the industrial commercial center of Saint Petersburg in the early 1700s, where it was produced in the Sestroretsk mint. As with many two kopek pieces of the 1750’s this coin began its journey as an early 1724 Baroque one Kopek. However, after nearly thirty years of circulation, the coin was left weathered with heavy traces of wear, and thus once the coin fell in the hands of a Russian official it was sent back to its place of birth, the Sestroretsk mint. Similar to many other weathered coins of the time, the Russian mint decided to overstrike the coin with a higher denomination in order to conserve copper. Thus, this original coin was given new life and was reborn as 1758 two Kopek piece once it was over struck. As a newly struck two kopek piece the coin travelled throughout the commercial center of Saint Petersburg travelling between the hands of farmers, merchants, and sailors. While in the hands of several Saint Petersburg merchants, the coin witnessed the construction of some of Russia’s most notable landmarks, such as the extravagant Winter Palace which was built between 1754 and 1762 as well as the Old Hermitage which was completed in 1784. The coin was even used by one of Catherine the Great’s aids, who used it to purchase a loaf of bread in 1773. The two Kopek piece journeyed throughout Saint Petersburg as it was exchanged for various inexpensive goods and commodities such as bread, milk and beer. However, in 1792 a Saint Petersburg blacksmith exchanged the coin for 10 pounds of salt to a salt trader from Ukraine’s Slavyansk, and for the first time in the coin’s life it was going to its home of Saint Petersburg. Several days after the salt merchant obtained the coin he embarked on his return to Slavyansk where he was expected to pick up the next shipment of salt. The journey back to Slavyansk was an arduous endeavor that took several weeks by horse carriage. The coin spent most of the journey in the left pocket of the merchant’s coat, but one day when the carriage became entrenched in the mud due to the heavy spring showers, the merchant exited the carriage and with the assistance of several other salt traders, was able to dislodge the carriage. However, while pushing the carriage, the trader failed to notice that the two kopek fell out of his pocket. The merchant continued his journey onward, but the two kopek was left in dire isolation from the rest of society embedded in the mud below. With each passing storm the coin became embedded deeper and deeper into the soil and before long it was enshrouded by nearly a foot of soil. The coin remained in the soil for nearly one hundred years, missing the fall of the imperial, and the Russian Revolution, which established a communist government in the country. The two kopek piece was rediscovered in the summer of 1986 as a small boy and his grandfather were planting potatoes on the outskirts of Donetsk. After nearly a century under the ground the coin came into a world that was entirely different from what it had known. The coin had fallen asleep when people rode in carriages, but it woke up after an age of industrialization, with the creation of automobiles and factories. The little boy took the old coin to school where he exchanged it to a classmate for a small soldier figurine. The new owner of the coin took the coin home and placed within a small metal cookie box that lay under his bed. The coin remained in the box for several years only occasionally taken out to be observed by the watchful eye of the owner and a few of his friends. However, in 1998 the coin began its longest journey yet, it embarked on its journey across the Atlantic to the United States. The coin arrived in New York in the summer of 1998, in the same metal cookie box that it had first been placed after it was traded. As the coin did for much of its life it remained dormant, spending most of its remaining life in the confinements of the metal box. In 2004, the box was opened once again, and the young boy (now a grown man) opened the box and carefully placed it into a cardboard coin flip with the aid of his son. The coin continues to be encased by this coin flip to this day only occasionally being taken out to be observed and admired by the eyes of others. Although, the coin n longer possesses its earlier luster and sharp details, it still contains an element of aesthetic beauty that can only be developed with age.

This two kopek piece has already had many unique experiences, and endeavors, but it still has countless more to come in its future. This coin will have many further encounters in the future, it will be passed down from generation to generation as an heirloom, and then at some point in its history it may be sold to another individual. The coin may experience years of neglect, but as has continually happened its past it will be rediscovered by a new observer, who will admire its aesthetic quality, but more importantly admire the long history of the coin. The coin may survive another few hundred years if continues to be passed between the hands of historians or collectors that acknowledge and respect the coins historical value. However, it is also possible that the coin may fall into the hands of an individual, who will not respect the historical value of the coin, and thus leave the coin in total neglect and possibly damage or destroy the coin. If the coin does fall into the hands of such an individual then the entire history of the coin will be lost, the unique experiences of the coin will be forgotten and lost forever. As with every coin, this 1758 two kopek will hopefully have a long future ahead of it, filled with many new encounters and experiences that will add to its extensive history.

Each coin possesses its own history and each has had its own unique experiences and journey’s, which give each coin great value to each historian and collector. One example that exemplifies a coin that has had a valuable and intriguing journey is the 1758 two kopek. The 1758 two kopek is one of my favorite pieces, because although it does not have a lot of material value, it possesses a profuse amount of historical value. The two kopek has had hundreds of years of experiences and encounters and it provides valuable insight into the past, and it allows humans to keep a record of human history. Each coin is an embodiment of a specific regions values, culture and beliefs during a specific time period and thus it is essential to study these coins and value them to better understand human history. The two kopek is one of my favorite coins, because it has had a unique history, beginning as a one kopek and then being over struck several years later. The two kopek has had many interesting experiences, and journeys, and it has many more in its future, and thus it is coin that I will continue to cherish and admire.

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