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Home / Articles / Significance of Cyrillic letters in the legends of Russian 1699-1917 coins.

Significance of Cyrillic letters in the legends of Russian 1699-1917 coins.


The Cyrillic letters and the letters of the old Russian alphabet in the inscriptions on Russian coins, differing by the form from modern Russian letters, are to be read as follows:

А (A)- А (A)
А (A)- А (A)
Е (YE)-Е (YE)
Е (YE)- Е (YE)
З (Z)- З (Z)
И (I)- И (I)
Н (N)- Н (N)
О (O)- О (O)
С (S)- С (S)
-У (U)-У (U)
Ф (F)- Ф (F)
Я (YA)- Я (YA)

Coins of 1699—1722 also have dates indicated mainly by Cyrillic letters corresponding to the following numbers:

1 - 1   
2 - 2   
3 - 3
4 - 4
5 - 5
6 - 6
7 - 7
8 - 8
9 - 9
10 - 10
20 - 20
200 - 200     
700 - 700     
1000 - 1000  

According to the modern European chronology the letters in the dates are arranged from left to right in the order of diminution of the ranks of numbers which they indicate. Dates ending in the numbers from 11 to 19 make an exception from this rule since they are written in the same way as they are pronounced (13-"thirteen"-3 + 10; 18-"eighteen"- 8 +10, etc.). In this case the letter indicating numbers from 1 to 9 is placed before the letter in­dicating 10. However on some copper coins of 1712 (dengas and polushkas) letters of the date are arranged after the common rule in the order of diminution of the ranks.

On some polushkas of 1720 and 1721 a mixed (letter + number) indication of dates is used:
17K = 1720,      17K1 = 1721.

Pattern poltinas of 1699 are dated according to the old chronology "from the Creation of the World" (1669 + 5508 = 7207). After the tradition of those times the thousands in the date are omitted:
C3 = 207.

To tell the numeral given in letters from the words of the text a zigzag mark ("title") was placed above the numeral. It was also placed above contracted words (where vowels are omitted). However both the "title" and the mark for a thousand (three crossed lines) are omited on coins due to carelessness of stamp engravers. For the same reason "title" is sometimes omitted above such contracted words as "ЦРЬ" (tsar) and "КНЗЬ" ("duke").

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