Losing and rebuilding a world class collection
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The story of Antonin Prokop highlights one of the important qualities of a serious coin collector -- sheer persistence.

 

The Czech numismatist, Antonin Prokop, lived and worked in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and assembled an exceptional collection of Russian coins during Tsarist rule. In 1919, however, the Soviets considered it communal property and confiscated the collection. It was subsequently auctioned off to foreign dealers. Prokop was able to leave Russia in 1921, taking his family to the recently formed Republic of Czechoslovakia where he started a new business and began the process of rebuilding his collection. He was able to buy back some of his original pieces and by the middle of the century, he had again assembled a world class collection.

 

Antonin Prokop died in 1954 but later in the same year Soviet influence would once again claim his collection. This time, the Communist regime consigned the entire lot to be melted for its precious metal content. Fortunately, it was saved from this fate by the head of the numismatic section of the Czech National Museum and was quietly preserved. After the 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989, the collection was returned to Prokop's family.

 

Today, the significant portion of the Antonin Prokop collection of Russian coins is considered a national treasure and housed in the National Museum in Prague. A lesser portion of his collection was auctioned to the public in 2003 by Aurea Numismatika. I thank Dr. Jarmila Haskova for preserving this bit of numismatic history.

 

My love of big, old silver coins is not limited to 8 reales. I'm working on a type set of silver dollar sized coins from around the world, mostly 18th century, and this interesting story gives me a chance to show off one that I have recently acquired. This is an example of the principal silver coin of the Russian Empire, the rouble. It is from the early years of the reign of Elizabeth, second-oldest surviving daughter of Peter the Great. Roubles shrank in size and fineness over time -- this one, minted in Moscow, is 25.85 grams and 80% silver. And, of course, it is pedigreed to the Antonin Prokop collection.

~jack

15470.jpg

 

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I'm glad the coins were returned to the family and that you were able to pick up this terrific Rouble with an interesting story.

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Very inspirational. Thanks for that piece of history.

 

 

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thanks for this post - very interesting reading!

 

I myself enjoy the collecting part, the "hunt" better than the great feeling of having a complete set. twice i've completed a full set of wheat cents 1909-1958, and twice i've sold the set a few months after it was complete, then started again after a little while.

of course there's no real comparison with the value and rarity of Mr. Prokop's coins and my mediocre sets. I'm just saying that even though it was devastating for him to lose his collection, i'm sure he enjoyed re-building it over again.

thank god he died before his collection was once again confiscated, that would have definitely killed him igf he lived to see that happening again..

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Jack

What an amazing story of both persistence and perseverance! Thanks for sharing it along with the accompanying awesome coin! Knowing the pedigree of a coin makes it that much more interesting.

Gary

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very good story...

 

Interesting that there was no mention of how the collection survived without incident Germany's invasion / occupation of Czechoslovakia from 1939-45.

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Great photo and a great post! Every coin is a little piece of history, and knowing the story behind it really brings it to life.

 

Your post also points out that we are not only collectors, but stewards of history with an obligation to pass our prize pieces on responsibly. In addition to Antonin Prokop, there were many others who "possessed" and protected this coin before it came to you. Any break in that line of custody, and we wouldn't be discussing this interesting coin today. Well Done! (thumbs u

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Wonderful story I love hearing the history behind a coin and what a history your coin has.

Also what a great photo of your coin. I have one question though, where is the date on the coin or is there not one?

Happy Collecting and may God Bless....Mike

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Hi WM-

 

The 1743 date is above the Crown and two-headed eagle

 

Rich

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Thank you Rich I must have been blind the day I looked at the coin cause its there plain as day....Mike

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There are similar stories from the Third Reich period in Germany, except most did not end as well.

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Wow Jack,

What an amazing story and a great coin!! And what an amazing pedigree to have as well!! I, too, love old silver coins. I think my favorites would have to be Ottoman Empire ( surprise, surprise) Yuzluks or 100 Paras-They are absolutely gorgeous, thaler sized silver coins from the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. I have a couple raw ones that have to make their way to NGC here soon. I'd look into them for that set that you're planning ( which sounds totally killer, I must say!!)

 

~Tom

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Indeed there are RWB, indeed there are.

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Thanks for the excellent suggestion, Tom. Yuzluks or the earlier 2 Zolota size coins certainly fit the definition of big, old and silver. And I love the designs. But at 44mm, will they fit in a standard size holder or do they need to be in an oversize holder?

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Hi Jack,

You know, that is a great question. I think that they could squeak by in the standard holder, as I believe that the oversize holder is for 45 mm coins and over......but I'm not sure. I haven't submitted a Yuzluk yet. Both of mine are raw, but they're headed to NGC with my next submission, which is coming up soon. I think I should write a quick email and find out. I'll let you know what I find out, if you'd like.

 

~Tom

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Hi Tom

I've spotted some NGC encapsulated 2 Zolota from as early as Mustafa III on the internet in regular sized holders, but I haven't seen a picture of an encapsulated Yuzluk. I'm not really interested in trying to store an oversize holder. Good luck with your submission!

~jack

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Hey Jack,

I heard back from Lisa Berzins today on the Yuzluks....she says no oversize holder required!!! Just thought I'd let you know in case you're interested.

~Tom

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