Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

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Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby cookj392 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:06 pm

http://s1224.photobucket.com/albums/ee378/cookj392/

My wife inherited some russian silver pieces from her aunt who we believe married a white russian sea captain. I believe some of the marks indicate the imperial court silversmiths in Mosocw. The spoon is 21.5 cm long - too big for a soup spoon I think - maybe a serving spoon or for basting??
Can anyone tell me more? Thanks

(admin edit - remember to use the 'Preview' button)
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:53 pm

Hi -
your photos are too small and unsharp to see what you have. Please be so kind and try some detailphoto of the marks - than we can tell you what you have.

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby cookj392 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:29 pm

Ok thank you. I am new to this so please forgive me if I get it wrong sometimes
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby cookj392 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:31 am

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Juke » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:52 am

Hi!

At first the marks seem well done but with more detailed research there are some inconsistencies and I am afraid they are not authentic by the firm Ovtshinnikov.

Zolotnik, you need just to click on the first picture to enlarge it.

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Juke » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:54 am

Hi!

Sorry I have to correct, there is no inconsistency, I didn't check the litterature well enough, so the mark is authentic and made by the well known firm Ovtshinnikov.

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:20 am

Hi -
Pavel Ovtschinnikov is one of the major Russian artists and therefore very often faked! Whenever one see his mark, a close inspection is important. Since the fakers learned how to produce "real" marks with a sense, it is double difficult to distinguish good from bad.
The marks on your spoon look nearly really authentic compared to existing objects, but...we need to look a little into the business of P. Ovtschinnikov to understand:

Firm of goldsmiths founded in 1853 by Pavel Akimovitsch Ovtschinnikov, alongside Fabergé the most important in Russia. The business was carried on after the founder´s death by his sons Mikhail, Aleksandr, Pavel and Nikolaj and survived until the Revolution. In 1873 the business had 173 workmen and in1881 300, making it larger than any of its competitors at that period. Its production was correspondingly large. for the training of young craftsmen the firm had set up a school in Moscow, which at times had over 150 pupils. In 1873 a branch with its own workshop was set up in St. Petersburg. The firm received the Imperial Warrant in 1883 (!) - your spoon was assayed 1880, the Imperial Warrant is already punched!!! 3 years too early!
Ovtschinnikov was the first business to devote itself entirely to the manufacture of articles in Russian national style. Its cloisonné, champlevé and plique-à-jour enamelware is outstanding and won the firm first prizes at every important Russian exhibition, for instance at the Manufacturing Exhibition of 1865 and the All-Russian Exhibition of 1882 in Moscow. It also exhibited at every world fair and in particular earned honourable mention at those in Chicago in 1893 and Paris in 1900. The Cartier archives in Paris show that from 1904 to 1906 Ovtschinnikov supplied this firm with articles of semi-precious stone.

Back to your spoon:
A firm famous for their excellent and outstanding articles sell a simple silverspoon, stamped with the Imperial Warrant it did not have at that time! Super!
The fakers did not make their homework! The spoon is a fake - Juke already stated that!

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Juke » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:32 am

Hi!

Zolotnik gives a well described history of the firm Ovtshinnikov which is important to understand the background of every single firm. I agree with Zolotnik that firm Ovtshinnikov was one of the leading companies of that time with the most known of them, namely Fabergé and they are most sought after to be imitiated with not authentic items to get a nice profit when deceiving people.

I am here to learn also more so I want to highlight some of the points mentioned by Zolotnik. There has always been different views on the exact years to some events even in different litteratures so there is not an exact year when for instance the firms received the Imperial Warrant. Zolotnik mentions 1883, in PL it is mentioned to be 1882, prehaps some these two or possibly a couple years earlier, I can not say for certain.

Zolotnik mentions also that firm Ovtshinnikov made articles in Russian national style and in enamel cloisonné, champlevé and plique-à-jour. These were of extraordinary quality as mentioned by Zolotnik. Therefore always with these kind of extraordinary articles, I call them luxary items, it is very important to ensure the quality is of the same level with the authentic ones. It is also important to remember that these few top companies be it Ovtshinnikov, Fabergé, Grachev or any other court supplier in addition to the extraordinary luxary item also made for instance table ware. A simple spoon is not so uncommon that it should be immidiately considered more probable to be not authentic than authentic. Take a good look for instance at the Fabergé catalog that dognose has kindly shown on this site.

I am therfore not totally convinced that the spoon would not be authentic but as mentioned I am here only to learn and this is my personal opinion. If there are more information and knowledge available that would confirm the case I would be happy to hear from it.

I would like also to make clear that the subject of this thread could be a little missleading meaning that even as we hade so called court suplliers it don't mean that all the items would have been used at the czars court but the items were sold also from the shops to mainly all nobles of the empire for their own use.

Regards,
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Qrt.S » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:38 am

As Juke mentioned it is not absolutely clear when Ovshinnikov was granted the title of court supplier. Different sources give different answers. After reading this thread I investigated a bit more. And the result is that Galina Smorodirovna from The Historical Museum in Russia states the following:

"...In 1865 at the Moscow Exhibition of Manufactured Goods, the firm of P. Ovtshinnikov received the title of the Royal Court Supplier from the Heir to the Throne, Tsarevich Aleksandr Aleksandrovitsh. He was also granted the title of Honorary Citizen of Moscow as well as being made member of the City Duma, Merchants Board and Moscow Exchange committee...".

I have no reason whatsoever to question the statement above.

In the mentioned exhibition, Ovshinnikov for the first time won the highest price, the gold medal. Moreover, I'm not convinced that the spoon is a fake, it could be but? This is a rather difficult case needing a more thorough investigation. You see the marks look very good indeed.
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:50 am

Hi Juke and all -

May I add the following:
Of course sold a Court Supplier to everybody coming through his shop door - the Imperial Eagle mark (warrant) he was allowed to use was just the proof that his standards were high enough to supply the Court - and a lot of pride next to some promotion on his articles. One has to know that all big or famous firms were contributors too - they often bought "simpler" articles like flatware etc. from other workshops to sell them in their own shops. But in this case they allowed the original maker to punch his mark on the object - next to it they used their own mark. There are countless examples from famous firms known. Only Fabergé erased the marks from F. Rückert!! If there is interest, I can show some photos of these combined marks.

Just for your files:
Supplier to the Court of the Heir Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Alexander III) 1865
Supplier to the Court of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolajewich 1878
Court Supplier in 1881/82/83 and 1896

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Qrt.S » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:00 am

Correct but as I mentioned, this is not an easy case. We do not know enough about the spoon...
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:02 am

Hi Qrt.S -

I think there is a difference between the 1) Supplier to the Court of Grand Duke XY or Heir of the Throne...
and 2) Imperial Warrant (Tsar)

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Qrt.S » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:28 am

Hi Zolotnik,

Well, I have to admit, that I really don't know with certainty that is there a difference or not, but as I said we don't know enough about the spoon. However, this doesn't mean that the spoon is a fake but not either that it is authentic.
There is also this court supplier mark, which is not a double eagle. It is the Court supplier mark of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolajevitsh, a more seldom seen mark. How do we evaluate this one? Due to the sad fact that lots of documents were destroyed as unnecessary in about 1882-83, there are still lots of questions unanswered. All this makes me very doubtful...

Image
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:03 pm

Hi -
there were many Courts possible: The Imperial Court (highest) and the Courts of the Grand Duchesses and Grand Dukes. One firm could have the honour of several "Court suppliers" but mentioned only the highest. Important was: whose Court!! Not to mention foreign Courts (Sweden, Denmark, King of Great Britain etc.)

On the spoon we speak of, I see the Imperial Eaggle = Imperial Court = Tsar = Warrant given 1883 (maybe 1881 or 1882, but I tend to 1883). So assaying 1880 plus the Imperial Eagle stamp is not correct.

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby piette » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:34 pm

Hi all,
In a situation like this I think we all need to stand back and look at all of the evidence offered by everyone so far, and also look to see if there is any new evidence available for consideration.
Zolotnik has stated has The Firm of Ovchinnikov was granted the use of the Imperial Warrant 1883. (Source: Alexander von Solodkoff - Russian Gold and Silverwork)
Juke has stated that The Firm of Ovchinnikov was granted the use of the Imperial Warrant in 1882. (Source: Postnikova-Loseva - Russian Gold and Silversmiths)
Qrt.S has stated that The Firm of Ovchinnikov was granted the title of Court Supplier in 1865. (Source: Galina Smorodirovna - Historical Document)

Another fact to add (although not so important in the case of this spoon) is that Ovchinnikov dealt in Niello work too - "Exhibited niello work at the 1876 World Exhibition in Philadelphia."

In this case, I am going to agree with Qrt.S. The book 'Russian Silver Mid 19th Century - Beginning of the 20th Century' by Andrei Gilodo states about The Firm of Ovchinnikov:
"In 1865 the firm was granted the title of Court Supplier and the right to include the imperial Double-Headed Eagle in its trade-mark."
It also states:
"Ovchinnikov was the first Russian jewellery firm to produce everyday objects in the Russian Style"

In this book we are also shown an exemplar Ovchinnikov makers mark as good as identical to the mark on this spoon stating "From 1865 the trade-mark includes the Imperial Double-Headed Eagle (Court Supplier)"

Based on this information, and the authentic looking marks on the spoon I see no real reason to doubt the authenticity of the spoon but before any final judgments can be made, on behalf of myself and other members I would like to request some extra information from cookj392, the original poster.
Could we please have the size and weight of this spoon, along with a picture of the whole spoon and another direct on picture of the makers mark so we are able to see if there is a . between П and Овчинников in the mark...?

Best Regards,
Piette
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Dad » Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:55 pm

Hi, All.

Still dates.))))
In Ivanov's book:

Image

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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby piette » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:02 pm

Hi Dad,
Can you explain please what Ivanov means when he says "the title was confirmed in 1881 and 1896" ?

I still see no reason to doubt this spoon, but now we have 1865, 1872, 1882 and 1883??? Where do all the dates come from? Which is correct? Who knows? Not me...

Best Regards,
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Qrt.S » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:28 pm

Unfortunately Ivanov's two blue books are not fully reliable. They list a lot of masters but also dealers and owners of silver shops etc. It is also a pity that no maker's marks are shown only the initials of the respective makers are mentioned. It has become clear that all these "initial based/abbreviated maker's marks" are not investigated completely or even found. Ivanov has only anticipated that some makers e.g. "Ivan Ivanovitsh" most likely marked II, but it has turned out that it is not always that simple. Therefore I would not rely too much on the respective book's information of the year being 1872.
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby cookj392 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:47 pm

Many thanks to everybody contributing to my question. I will get some better photos and post as soon as possible. A little family history remembered by my wife from her childhood days! The sea captain (James) reputedly supplied flax to the last Tsar.
The family fled to Germany during the revolution where his sister was later interred by Hitler and died at Auschwitz. James met the aunt (Gertrude) at Lord Usk's house in Wales. He was much older - their name was "Muller" which may have been the result of a change when fleeing to Germany. They had no children. Most of the silver they owned was crested and returned to Germany to his nephew. Please remember these are memories which may not be the whole facts. Will get back soon.
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Re: Imperial Court Serving Spoon?

Postby Zolotnik » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:57 pm

Hi -
to make the tohuwabohu bigger, here some sources:

The Fabulouse Epoch Of Faberge by Dr.Vyacheslav Mukhin on behalf of the Exhibition at the Catherine Palace in Tsarscoye Selo

Image

Russian Silver Mid 19th Century-Beginning of 20th Century, by Andrej Gilodo

Image

Image

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