Russian 5 Kopeks

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Chris B, Jun 7, 2023.

  1. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    I have been a US large cent fan and collector. A few years ago, as the holes in this set were getting more expensive to fill, I decided to branch out. While doing some internet searching, I found the Russian 5 Kopek series and instantly fell in love. They are big chunky copper coins that are a pleasure to hold. They are all roughly 42mm in diameter and 51.2 grams making them larger and heavier than a US silver dollar.


    As my set becomes more complete, finding the remaining pieces is difficult, at best. Some date/mint mark combinations just don't show up for sale. For the most part, cost isn't even a factor. When an elusive issue is found the price is normally reasonable.

    I don't strive to have the highest grade possible. These coins were work horses in the economy and I like to have examples that reflect that. While I do have some nice high-grade pieces, it was almost by accident. It just happened to be the one that was available. I have focused on issues from the reign of Catherine the Great. She was in power for many years and the numismatic releases are many.

    Catherine II was born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst on May 2nd 1729. She is most commonly known as Catherine the Great and was the reigning empress of Russia from 1762 till her death on November 17th, 1796. Catherine II remains Russia's longest ruling female leader.


    Sophie first met her future husband and second cousin, the future Peter III of Russia, at the age of 10. Based on her writings, she found Peter detestable upon meeting him. She disliked his pale complexion and his fondness for alcohol. After arriving in Russia in 1744 she converted to Russian Orthodox and made of a point of mastering the Russian language. She wanted to make sure that she was fit to wear the crown. Married in 1745, Peter and Catherine's marriage was not a happy one. After Peter took the throne, Catherine almost immediately began planning his overthrow. Peter ended up abdicating just six months into his reign, and just like that Catherine was now Empress of Russia.

    Under her long reign Russia experienced a renaissance of culture and sciences, which led to the founding of many new cities, universities, and theatres, along with large-scale immigration from the rest of Europe and the recognition of Russia as one of the great powers of Europe.

    In her accession to power and her rule of the empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favorites, most notably Count Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by highly successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and Pyotr Rumyantsev, and admirals such as Samuel Greig and Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding rapidly by conquest and diplomacy. In the south the Crimean Khanate was annexed following victories over the Bar Confederation and Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War. With the support of Great Britain, Russia colonized the territories of New Russia along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. In the west the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine's former lover King Stanisław August Poniatowski, was eventually partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east Russians became the first Europeans to colonize Alaska.

    By most accounts, the Catherinian Era is considered the Golden Age of Russia. Catherine supported the ideas of the Enlightenment, and was a devoted patron of the arts. She also lead the modernization of Russia and helped found the country's first higher education institution for women.

    These copper coins produced under Catherine the Great are one of the largest copper coins that ever saw regular use at a massive 51 grams, they're almost twice as heavy as a US silver dollar.

    These beautiful 5 kopeks coins are an iconic piece of Catherine's rule. They depict the date and empress' initials on the obverse ("E" and "T", for Ekaterina Tsarina), and a Romanov double-headed eagle surrounding St. George slaying a dragon on the reverse. It is nice to find one with a well struck St George and dragon. This area is the highest point and also suffered from weak strike. The 1793KM has one of the nicest strikes that I have seen aside from those found on the Novodels.


    They were minted throughout Russia off and on at 7 different mints. When you include the few years that were minted without a mint mark that leaves you with 8 varieties to collect if you don’t decide to collect by date.

    Without mintmark – Ekaterinburg Mint (C#59.1)
    АМ – Anninsky Mint (C#59.2) 1789-96 Northeast of Ukraine
    ЕМ – Ekaterinburg Mint (C#59.3) 1763-96 Central Russia north of Kazakhstan
    ТМ – Tauric Mint (C#59.4) 1787-88 Crimean peninsula, now part of Ukraine
    КМ – Suzun Mint (C#59.5) 1781-96 Central Russia east of Ekaterinburg
    ММ – Krasny Mint, Moscow (C#59.6) 1763-68, 1788, 1789, 1795 Western Russia
    СПМ – St. Petersburg Mint (C#59.7) 1763-67, 1788 Far western Russia on the Gulf of Finland
    СМ – Sestroretsk Mint (C#59.8) 1763-67 North of St Petersburg

    There are recognized overdate varieties for certain years and later restrikes made for collectors that are referred to as Novodels. The US mint wasn’t the only mint producing coins for collectors after they were intended to be made.

    A complete set is 102 varieties. Some of these are virtually non-collectible due to their scarcity. If you were looking to put together a date set, I would recommend looking for coins struck at Ekaterinburg (EM). They are the most common. Even nice examples can be found for less than $50. Plus, it’s the only mint to continuously strike 5 kopek coins throughout her reign.

    Another fun aspect of collecting these is the number of issues that can be found overstruck on earlier 5 and 10 kopeks. For certain earlier years the majority of issues are overstrikes.
    Plenty has been written on these issues and would be enough for its own article.


    These are fun to collect and can be done so on a budget if you keep your goals realistic.

    Feel free to pile on with pictures of your 5 Kopek coins or anything related.

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  3. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Strike quality was generally iffy and many are worn, but mine is pretty decent considering.

  4. dirty_brian

    dirty_brian Well-Known Member

    my lcs gave me some for free a few years ago. only got around to photographing these. i do love the weight of them

    1765 5 Kopeks.jpg 1779 5 Kopeks.jpg
    Eric the Red and Chris B like this.
  5. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

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