How Lomonosov received an award weighing 2 tons

In 1741, Empress Elizabeth, daughter of the great reformer Peter the Great, ascended the Russian throne. And 7 years later, the famous Russian scientist Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov wrote an ode dedicated to Elizabeth, in which he praised the ruler and expressed confidence that her reign would be no less famous than the times of Peter.

Flattered by such praise from Lomonosov, Elizabeth gave him a truly royal gift - 2, 000 rubles, which for the middle of the eighteenth century was a huge amount. For example, a pood of wheat at that time cost 64 kopecks. But, the whole point is that at the time of Elizabeth it was not yet accepted to use paper banknotes, they appeared in Russia only 20 years later, therefore, Lomonosov received his literary fee in copper money.

At that time, there were about 900 grams of copper coins per ruble, therefore, the weight of the Lomonosov prize was no less impressive than the royal favor itself - 1, 800 kg. Almost two tons. Therefore, the scientist faced a problem - how to bring home this, literally, a huge amount of money? I had to hire several carts to deliver the cargo to Vasilievsky Island, where he then lived.

By the way, in the seventies, already under Catherine II, they tried to produce copper rubles, called "sestroretsk", as they were made at the Sestroretsk mint. But, such a novelty could not cause delight in the country in any way, since the weight of one such "coin" ranged from 888 to 1024 g and had a diameter of 76 mm. Carrying them in your pocket was problematic! But there was clearly not enough gold and silver in the country to organize the mass production of coins from precious metals.

It is not surprising that on December 29, 1768, Catherine II issued a Manifesto, according to which paper notes were put into circulation in Russia in order to replace inconvenient copper money with light notes. True, these banknotes were, rather, bank receipts: anyone could exchange them for coins made of metal, the state at first strictly monitored that all banknotes in circulation were provided with a hard coin, as metal money was then called.

Gradually, paper notes were less and less supported by precious metals, which caused their depreciation. But the Sestroretsk ruble not only preserved, but also significantly increased its value: a few years ago, one of the surviving copies went to auction for 50, 000 Swiss francs.