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A medal is the peculiar sign of an epoch keeping memory of historic events and outstanding personalities. This art especially blossomed in the epoch of Peter the Great. However, no significant difference was made then between medal and coin: they were put in Peter’s cabinet of curiosity in a single chronological order. Russian medals feature national traditions especially notably. For instance, the famous series of Fedor Tolstoy’s medallions "To the Memory of Patriotic War of 1812" made the public perceive a medal as the world’s genuine masterpiece. And later, in the second half of the 20th century, which the world regards as the period of a new flight of the medal art, articles of Russian craftsmen did not get lost in the general flow receiving international recognition for their art merits, quality of execution and originality.

Vladimir Potapov

specially valuable medals and coins made of precious metals were popular in Russia for a long time. The first historic Russian coin was minted in 1832 in the honor of starting the coin-minting use of gold, which was mined at Altai. This was the gold coin of a 5 ruble denomination with the inscription indicating the Kolyvanskiye gravel deposits, the place of the metal’s origin. This coin became not only the measure of value but the milestone, the measure of the memory in the glorious period of the Russian State’s history as well.
The famous silver ruble in the memory of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Navy’s victory in the sea battle near the Cape Gangut was the last one to get minted in the Imperial Russia in 1914. In the numismatic community this ruble became the most known and precious among historic pre-revolutionary silver coins: the start of WWI blocked monetizing it.
If in the subsequent years of the stormy Russian history medals went on performing their decorative functions, the practice of minting historic coins was interrupted for half a century. This patriotic tradition was renewed only in April 1965, when the copper-nickel coin of a 1 ruble denomination was put in circulation. This historic coin was minted in the honor of the 20th anniversary of the Soviet people’s victory over Nazis’ Germany. From 1977 the minting of historic coins has become regular. The almost forgotten sphere of numismatic interest was reborn, the demand re-emerged, the appropriate business direction appeared. All this gave a push to the emergence of the company Mezhnumizmatika.
According to Sergei Rybakov, the general director of ZAO Mezhnumizmatika, the operations with ancient and modern coins as well as historic medals made of precious metals started 30 year ago, when the Commercial Department was set up the USSR Vneshtorgbank. As authorized by the Government, this Department ensured the State Treasury’s foreign currency receipts from exporting standard bullions of gold, small-batches of brilliants and emeralds, gold leaf and native gold. In the late 1970s projects started to make bullion and historic coins of precious metals. Under these projects the minting of the Chervonets, gold coins made of bullion, was arranged (the 1975-1982 production). And the coin program devoted to the Olympic Games of 1980 in Moscow was recognized as one of the world’s most successful among the similar endeavors by other countries. The program’s implementation made it possible to establish a production base in Russia for putting out the country’s numismatic products that became and still are highly competitive on the international numismatic market.
Being a successor to the Commercial Department, Mezhnumizmatika received the status of a joint venture in 1988 and, later, the status of a close joint-stock company (ZAO), whose founders are the Gosznak Association of Russia’s Finance Ministry, Vneshtorgbank and Germany’s Ost-West Handelsbank.
Mezhnumizmatika’s activity has patriotic features, which are traditional for Russian coin craftsmen. A number of its coin series, such as Millennium of Russia’s Christening, Five-Hundredth Anniversary of United Russian State, History of Great Geographical Discoveries, Russia’s Olympic Century, Russian Ballet, achieved the wide international recognition.
The network of distributors, which Mezhnumizmatika managed to set up while working on these programs, includes about two dozens of large numismatic companies in Germany, Austria, Spain, Norway, Japan, Hong Gong, Singapore, the US. This network is still used by the Bank of Russia.
In the last decade Mezhnumizmatika developed and arranged over 30 medal projects. Their national importance can be judged at least by such projects as the minting of the Trinity coin in honor of canonizing Andrei Rublev, the coinage (in cooperation with Great Britain’s Royal Mint) of the silver medal in the honor of the visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Russia, the implementation of Moscow’s 850th anniversary medal program on behalf of the Moscow Mayor’s Office.
The remarkable milestone in the medal-producing activity of Mezhnumizmatika was a project devoted to the 2000th anniversary of Jesus, the greatest date for the whole Christian world. With the blessing by Alexii II, the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, the Bible in Silver 3-part collection of medals (45 medals, in total) was put out: Creation of World. Old Testament; Happy News. New Testament; Afflatus of Apostle John the Divine. Apocalypse. After this collection ZAO Mezhnumizmatika started developing the new independent genre of the Russian medal-producing art: the art of Orthodox medal.
At the same time there were collections of medals devoted to masterpieces of the world and Russian fine arts (For example, Images of the Beautiful containing reproductions of the famous pictures by S. Bottichelli and K. Bryullov) as well as to the most known cultural monuments and historic events (Glory to Russia. Saint Petersburg’s 300th anniversary).
The Russia’s Spiritual Revival collection was timed to the start of the Third Millennium and it was put out with the participation of leaders of Russia’s main religious confessions.
The set of three medals devoted To Triumphant Russian Army was made on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of Russia’s Victory in the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 1945.
The 60th anniversary of Russia’s Victory was also marked by Mezhnumizmatika that put out the People, the Winner collection consisting of 17 medals and aimed to immortalize the glorious pages of Russia’s military history. That is why the series begins with medals in honor of victories by Russian arms over the Motherland’s enemies in the Kulikovskaya battle, in the 1812 Patriotic War, in the battle for liberating Russia from foreign interventionists in 1612, which, by the way, has become a reason for establishing a national holiday to celebrate the Day of the People’s Unity, which has been done for the first time this year.
At present, the export 1,000th Anniversary of Russia medal Program is being successfully implemented.
The plans of Mezhnumizmatika for the nearest future provide for continuing to put out the collection of 24 medals on Russian Czars and Emperors, which has already been internationally recognized. All of them, 24 Grand Princes, Czars and Emperors played different roles in the formation of the Russian State, but all of them are part of the country’s history.

The high art level of Russian medals makes people collect them almost automatically. Collecting was begun by those, who devoted part of their lives and creative activity to Russia and, above all, by France’s great sculptor J. Falkone. Jilber Romm, the tutor of count P. Stroganov, brought about 180 Russian medals from Russia to Paris in 1787. During his stay in Russia bishop of the British mission to Saint Petersburg D. King managed to accumulate a nearly full collection of Russian medals. The collection of 120 Russian medals was put together by British doctor Thomas Dimsdail, who was called for a short visit to Russia so as to vaccinate Katherine the Great against a smallpox in 1768. As its present owner reported to the Hermitage in 1988, Dimsdail’s collection has been kept by his heirs for more than two centuries.
(From the book "Two Centuries of Russian Medal" by E. Shschukina) 

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