What you can see?
Russian silver is very popular in the world. And the world has Russian silver not less than Russia has. The Nazis took out all silver coins from occupied territories, and now Belarus, the most part of Ukraine, the Eastern regions of the Russian Federation are numismatic deserts.
Nevertheless Russia remains a numismatic country, and it has not only Russian coins. You can be surprised, but Russia is full of the great variety of coins from around the world, from medieval to contemporary circulating ones.
The main topics of coin of monetary presence in Russia are:
- Russian medieval coins (pulo, denga, kopeika of Russian princes and tsars),
- Coins of Golden Horde,
- Russian coins of the New Times (from Peter the Great),
- Soviet coins,
- Coins of early independence of the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania from 1918 to 1941),
- Medieval coins of Pole-Lithuanian Princedom.
Due to cultural and territorial closeness you can also find in Russia the coins of new independent states. Russian sellers have close connection with Poland, Czechia, Germany and many other countries with decent customs regulations, and you can see in Russia many coins from these states.
The coin market of Russia is far from perfection. There are no recognized grading companies, auction houses or huge coin shops. Except "Gelos", which makes VIP-auctions from time to time, you should be satisfied with the follow three opportunities for buying:
- street bazaars,
- small coin shops or little numismatic sections of bookstores,
- internet auctions and internet shops.
These are real bazaars, not market-places, because:
- Russian sellers don't like bargaining,
- they like money,
- they like to raise prices for foreigners,
- their pricing is based on rumors and unchecked information.
Thus you can find the same coin with price difference of two-three times. Besides, bazaar sellers usually don't wash coins for years, and you can't grade them as it should be. The most of such sellers are the former coin collectors, which now sell their treasure for compensating low pensions. There are some profiteers too. The coin collectors clubs are the same bazaars, but they work only one-two days a week. You will see the same picture in Moscow near Taganskaya underground station, at flea market at Avtovo station in Saint Petersburg, in Olympic Sochi, and so on.
Here you have an opportunity to buy: Russian silver roubles of VF, Soviet silver coins of VF-XF, sometimes good coins of Balkans and even 8 reales.
Be careful: buying Russian copper coins or plates, you never know are these copies or no!
Small Coin Shops or Numismatic Sections
This is the worst part of the Russian numismatology. Each of few in number coin shops is very expensive and poor. They have usually not a numismatically experienced sellers, except the shop at Pushkinskaya Street in Petersburg.
In Moscow, there are few shops faced to travellers: BiblioGlobus, Numismat close to Taganskaya underground station, Bookstore near Rizhskaya station, and... I don't know more!
Here you have an opportunity to buy: Russian silver and copper coins, Baltic coins, thalers, Soviet coins.
Be careful: the section of BiblioGlobus bookstore near Lubyanka offers so high prices…! Despite Moscow is the same expensive city in the world, Moscovits think that foreigners are still richer.
Internet Auctions and Shops
You can see the biggest coin auctions in the List.
I didn't take into account auctions with 500 lots or less.
Each of them offers mostly Russian coins, except MOLOTOK (it means "a hammer"). Third column of the table marks how many foreign coins an auction offers relative to the Russian ones.
List of e-auctions
Legend and order: TITLE; Foreign language page (Yes/No); Percent of non-Russian coins; Type of auction (auctions is called "centralized" if they collect lots together and ship lots out from office).
- NUMISMA; No; 8-10% of 20 c.; Centralized.
- EFIMOK (this means a thaler with Russian countermark); No; 3-5% of 20 c.; Centralized.
- HABE; No; 3-5% of 20 c.; Centralized.
- WOLMAR; No; 8-10% of 20 c.; Centralized.
- RUSSIAN COIN; No; Only Russian; Centralized.
- СМОЛЕНСКИЙ КЛАДОИСКАТЕЛЬ (Smolensk's Treasure Seeker); No; 8-10% of 20 c.; Centralized.
- СИБИРСКИЙ МОНЕТНЫЙ АУКЦИОН (Siberian Coin Auction); No; 2-3%, Germany, China; Centralized.
- ANTIKVARIAT; Yes; 2-3%; Centralized.
- AUKRO; "Brothers" in Poland, Hungary, Czechia; 1200-1500 lots total, mainly world coin; Like eBay.
- MOLOTOK; No; Different coins, the best choice; Like eBay.
The forgery do rarely happens on these auctions. Usually sellers fairly reports when sell a copy.
The biggest auction is MOLOTOK. Actually it has not such developed services like eBay has.
As you see, to use the Russia auctions you should know the Russian language.
The sellers in Russia are commonly nice and fair people. But they often are unobliging and slightly arrogant. Generally speaking, a Russian seller is the more important and pompous figure, then a buyer. This is a the Soviet times heritage, there's nothing to be done. A seller can inform you, that he (she) has not an item you won!(?) He (mostly, he) can keep silence for weeks, but if you don't ask him during three days, he give you a negative feedback.
Some e-sellers are the shop holders as well. Their small unofficial Shops (boutiques) are the most interesting at the Russian coin market. If you find on MOLOTOK more than 700 item from one seller, you may be sure that you deal with boutique husband. You have an opportunity to bid for several items and go to the shop for further consideration. However these boutiques (very exotic!) are situated in places, which difficult to access. Have a real adventure!
The items of MOLOTOK is various: from ancient gold and silver to coins of unrecognized states; from contemporary changes to expensive thalers and dubloons; from a half to thousands dollars prices.
AUKRO is not such promoted auction. Here you can buy mainly small contemporary coins of uncertain grade. But this auction is a part of international net. Many its items are placed at its "brothers" at other countries (see Table). That significantly facilitates buying from outside Russia.
Amongst internet shops I can recommend CENTER PAVA and NUMIZMATIK.
Here you have an opportunity to buy: Everything you wish, and please don't hurry.
Be careful: No one e-auction don't ship items outside Russia. This is a law violence!
How to Buy
To define a coin, you may not know the Russian. So, at e-shops you just forward an item into basket and send email with request for helping.
You have to register on e-auctions. This is more traumatic, but possible. The Russian "registration" looks like "perucTpauuR". The search (browse) is "nouck". Good sellers marks coin denominations in original. Every Russian who left school know the Latin alphabet. The rest is intuitively understandable.
The Country of Restrictions
You can safely buy non-precious coins from Russia. You will receive them by mail or export through border. You can also transfer Russian contemporary coins through border in reasonable quantity, because they only are the currency.
But, and this is crucially important, you are prohibited to transfer any silver or gold coin in any way! The Russian customs rules is that you can import everything, but cannot export anything precious. You take chance to be arrested if you import undeclared coins. You will be arrested trying export of dozen coins.
Russian buyers waiting for coins from you are permitted to receive no more one thousand euro in goods including a shipping cost per month.
Now you know why Russian buyers often ask you to wait with shipping, and to understand why many Russian sellers send their items from outside Russia.
Details will be in the next guide.
As described, the Russian Federation laws restrict the export of precious metals in any form. Thus Russia could be a kind of nipple tube, which suck coins in and don't let them out. Surprisingly, that don't form lower prices inside the country. People say Russians are lavish, others say they became too rich. I don't know. I'm not lavish and rich. Due to that, probably, I buy on eBay.
In my estimation, the price of silver coins in Russia is overstated. It concerns to as old thalers, as new "investment coins", as Sigismind's grossen, as Chinese taels. Thus, it's time to sell to Russia!
My beloved 8 reales is worth 30-50% higher, than at eBay.
Russian sellers consider the Krause's prices archaic and heighten them up to 2-2.5 times.
Russian coins of 18-19 c. are of approximately the same price, except prices of shops designed for foreigners (like BiblioGlobus numismatic section).
Baltic coins of 20 c. are still lower, no coin more $80, even Smetona's bust and Singing Festival Lira.
There are many coins from former socialist states with prices just a little more than catalogue.
Generally, for the most of coins the pricing is made as follows: prices less $1 equate with $1; middle prices multiply on 1.2-1.5; higher prices multiply on 2-2.5. It's clear, I talk about "common" coins.
So, in my opinion, the international sellers have not to buy from Russia, but they have to do selling into Russia.
What can happen as consequences, see in the next guide.