50-ruble banknote
50-ruble banknote

While money in the form of coins dates back nearly 2,000 years, its use in the modern sense of government-issued trade currency didn’t become widespread until the end of the feudal era around the 12th century. As many of the European nations we recognize today began to form in the 14th and 15th centuries, they began issuing national currencies, several of which survive to this day. Among them is the Russian ruble, which came into use during the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the late 1500s.

History and Hyperinflation

In 1704, czar Peter the Great introduced a currency reform that standardized the ruble at 28 grams of silver. In 1710, Russia introduced the kopek, a fractional currency equal to 1/100of a ruble, thus becoming the western world’s first decimal currency.

In 1885, the larger denomination gold ruble was reduced to a gold content of 1.161 grams, the equivalent of 4 French francs. At the outbreak of the First World War, the ruble was worth roughly one-half U.S. dollar.

As nations abandoned the gold standard during the war, the ruble fell in value, and during the revolutionary period in the ’20s, Russia, like Germany, was plagued by hyperinflation. When the Soviet Union emerged from the struggle, the Russian ruble was replaced by the Soviet ruble.

Throughout the Cold War era and the emergence of the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the ruble has continued to fall in value. Hyperinflation struck again in the 1990s and in 1998, the Bank of Russia redenominated a new ruble at a value of 1:1000 old rubles. As of January 2016, the ruble had an exchange value of about 1.3 U.S. cents or 76 rubles to the dollar.

Popular Collectible Currency

Regardless of its face value (or perhaps because of it), the Russian ruble has become popular among collectors of foreign currencies. Top among the Russian banknotes is the beautifully designed 100-ruble note commemorating the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Great American Coin Company® is pleased to offer these notes to collectors along with 10- and 50-ruble notes. These notes are sold as collectible novelties only with no currency value.

100-ruble note from the 2014 Sochi Olympics
100-ruble note from the 2014 Sochi Olympics

Russian rubles are just one of the many collectible international currencies available from Great American Coin that span the globe. Browse our website for details about these and our other products for collectors and investors. Remember, Great American Coin Company does not sell the Russian ruble on a speculation basis, but only as numismatic collectibles for enjoyment.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on 

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Great American Coin Company