Ivan IV—known by one and all as ”the Terrible“—was the last grand prince of Moscow, the first tsar of Russia, and the prototypical modern dictator. He is the philosophical
forefather of all contemporary despots. After the death of his beloved wife Anastasia Romanov in 1564, Ivan created the world’s first secret state police, called the
oprichnina—black-clad operatives on black horses who rode around Russia terrorizing his subjects. It is the antecedent to modern secret police services like the
Gestapo and the KGB.
This crude, misshapen coin is a denga, ”wire money“struck
during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. On one side is the tsar’s name and his titles in Old Russian script; on the other, an indistinct image of Saint George slaying the
dragon. Both sides are partially cut off.