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Pre-Revolutionary Russian Bonds Collection

This collection of pre-revolutionary Russian bonds was made available to the British Library on "permanent loan" by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after the bonds were redeemed under an Anglo-Soviet arrangement in 1986. The dates of the cancelled certificates range from the early 19th century (among the first shares to be issued in Imperial Russia) right up until the October Revolution of 1917.

The bonds were issued in order to meet the Tsarist regime's capital requirements generated by large-scale public investment projects. Numerous Russian cities followed suit, issuing their own bonds to finance municipal projects in local transport systems (principally tramways), education, sanitation and health.

A Russian bond

A Russian bond © The British Library Board

The agreements were subsequently revoked by the Soviet Regime, but the shareholders (foreign investors and Russian émigrés) retained their certificates in the hope that someday they would be honoured by the Soviets. (Russian city bonds were officially quoted on the London and Paris stock exchanges at token prices as late as the 1980s.)

A settlement was eventually reached in 1986. In the intervening years, the outstanding Soviet debt was the source of much friction between the USSR and the Western powers.

"Scripophily" (the study and collection of bonds and shares) has been established on an international level and societies and study groups devoted to the subject have been founded in recent years. The website Scripophily.com provides useful information and links about the subject. The British Library Slavonic Section would like to express its thanks to Peter Boag for his advice and assistance in processing this collection.

The most comprehensive work on Russian bonds is Ulrich Drumm and Alfons Henseler's 3 volume catalogue Historische Wertpapiere (Frankfurt: Freunde historischer Wertpapiere, 1975-1981) [X.0619/878]. Volumes 1 ('Russische Eisenbahn-Obligationen') and 3 ('Russische Stadtanleihen 1875-1917') contain indexes to Russian railway and city bonds. The "Catalogue No." information provided in the indexes below refers to the more detailed entries supplied by Drumm and Henseler.

The items fall into four principal categories (Indexes in PDF format):

The collection can be consulted in the British Library Reading Rooms.

Further information

For further information on Russian bonds, it is best to contact International Bond and Share Society . The Slavonic and East European section of the British Library does not have sufficient expertise in this area to advise either on the general history of bonds or on how to go about buying and selling them.

Contact

Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator, Russian Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7587

E-mail: katya.rogatchevskaia@bl.uk

Peter W. Hellyer, Curator, Russian Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7582

E-mail: peter.hellyer@bl.uk

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