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In the future, there will be information on separate pages to provide 
useful information about some of my specialist areas.
Hints, tips, advice and ideas etc.


 1) Russian Porcelain will be a feature with background to factories and porcelain development in Russia.
With information about the factory marks and valuation guide to some items.

2) There will be some information about many items made in Russia.

3 ) A section about Danish Porcelain.

4) Looking for a bargain:
 How to go out  every day and find a bargain - 
Yes, it is true, 90 % of all 
Antique /Junkshops, Fleamarkets, Auctions  etc : 
you can find something that is under priced which 
you can buy and then sell for a profit in the future.


A Bit of History

Brief History of Russian Porcelain


Brief History of Russian Porcelain

Peter the Great made every attempt to bring Russia into a modern era and having created the city named after him, he turned his many talents into developing a wide range of skills learnt whilst seeking the ‘tricks of the trade’ travelling throughout Europe. At almost seven feet tall,  Peter was  the Tsar that really started to create an artistic and cultural society in Russia. The founding and development of St. Petersburg in 1703 laid the foundations for a certain aristocratic class that would be able to commission great works of art and thereby directly influence the building of a large and dynamic porcelain industry.

Whilst Peter attempted to create porcelain production in Russia, it was not until 1744, nearly 20 years after his death that anything positive happened, even though there had been attempts by other people.

During the reign of Empress Elizabeth the German Konrad Hunger was employed to start a company producing porcelain. However it was one of his Russian students who is credited with finally discovering the secrets of the white gold. Dmitri Vinogradov produced many items for the Empress and other people at court. The earliest records about the Imperial Porcelain factory start from 1751 and it took a relatively short time to create complicated items and good quality paintwork. Vinogradov carefully documented his work and methods which still have a big influence on today’s porcelain.

After the death of Vinagradov  in 1758 , there became a close contact between the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the newly founded Academy of Arts. So a more artistic style developed . By the early part of the next century it was a more patriotic, Empire style that was more notable.

By this time there were many other porcelain factories in Russia, most notably the Gardner factory set up by an Englishman, Francis Gardner and the older ceramic factory of Gzhel had also developed the art of making porcelain.

The period after the Napoleonic wars was naturally a time to glorify the men, the regiments, the uniforms of that period. The Yusopov factory commenced in 1814 and specialised in commission works for the Yusopov family, the tsar and the Court. (It was a later member of the family, Prince Felix Yusopov who assassinated Rasputin in 1916.)

It was during the 1840’s that the sculptures of trades, theatre, masquerade and street people were developed, sadly this phase soon ended mainly due to the influences from French fashion and a more European style developed.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century most of the smaller porcelain factories had either disappeared or been taken over by a larger concern. So much so that only a few big names remained. The family of Kuznetsov being the largest owners.

The Imperial factory had been helped by the Royal Copenhagen Factory, through  which it now was able to develop an even more western style of porcelain with a similar underglaze painting style to that of the Danish company.

The Revolution in 1917 changed much of Russia and society. The porcelain factories were nationalised and the revolutionary phase with it’s politically correct designs and propaganda pieces, especially from the former Imperial factory that was to become the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory in 1925, named after the famous scientist, who had been a friend of Dmitri Vinagradov. This Soviet period produced a great many talented  sculptors and painters.

Since then Russian and Soviet porcelain has developed many forms to which the names of Dulevo, Polenne, Kiev, Verbilki (Dmitriev - formerly owned by M.S. Kuznetsov and  earlier, the Gardner Factory), Riga , Gzhel, Novgorod, Kornakoba and Lomonosov are some of the better known one’s in the West.

It must be pointed out that in Russia there were not so many very wealthy people, and except for the items commissioned by that small group of people, most porcelain production was made and designed for the masses. Basic tableware, cups and saucers, dinnerware, etc were the main items made as cheaply as was practicable.  Naturally if we visit the Hermitage Museum or the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg today we will see only the more exclusive porcelain. For most collectors it is unrealistic to expect to find such items. therefore it is primarily two items any serious collector might find, that we will we try to concentrate on. This will focus on the large range of animal sculptures  and figures that are so popular today, made to be politically neutral by sculptors and painters who eventually became frustrated with the censorship of the Soviet system. In recent years there has been a great interest in Russian porcelain, in particular that made in  Soviet ‘Made in USSR‘ times before 1992.

Some attention will be paid to the factory marks on the bottom of most pieces, approximate valuations and a range of other items and curiosities in the hope of encouraging a more wide knowledge and subsequently to that, of enabling the collector  to acquire a larger and more enriched display in their cabinets.  



After the revolution it became ‘safer’ for porcelain sculptors and artists to create designs that were ‘neutral’ and non political in the eyes of the revolutionaries or more usually to actually promote the ideas of Communism using propoganda designs .

Most designs used the Soviet propaganda themes on plates, tableware and on figurines mixing it with The fashionable Art Deco style patterns that were all the norm during the 1920’s and early 1930’s. However as should have been expected the artists grew quickly tired of such restrictions and began to express their desire for freedom and a more expressive spirit by creating items with a more neutral propaganda value as this would not offend the ‘hiearchy’ and provide for some artistic development and creativity.

Thus, we start to see some designs of popular and well known animals and figures and others based on the traditional Russian folk and fairy tales.

One of the major influences for this inspiration probably, may have originated from the skilled artists who painted the designs on the black lacquered boxes made at the villages of Palekh, Mstiora, Kholui and Fedoskino. The highly skilled artists had ceased their work on traditional icon painting which now was frowned on by the anti-church Communists. They had used the traditional themes from the fairy and folk tales as their inspiration and the majority of all the lacquers that have been produced ever since are still based on these tales. Thus they had developed a new style that kept them in work and their craft alive and was acceptable to the new and strict ways of the day.

It therefore was no surprise that after a decade or so of creating only soviet propaganda items the porcelain artists started to also use these themes as their inspiration but without risking being too controversial with the Communist Party.

It should also be remembered that for most porcelain factories it was normal that basic tableware items to be manufactured as most production was for the basic needs of a family, not for decoration in the home.

By the time we get to the 1940’s and 1950’s it became normal to see many figures and compositions based on the folk or fairy tales. Now we will highlight some of the most popular stories and of the characters and animals from them.

The Frog Princess:

The tale of the Golden Fish:

The tale of the Little Humpbacked Horse:

The tale of Prince Ivan and and the firebird and the Grey Wolf:

The Malachite Casket:

The Snow maiden:

General Toptiggin:

The tale of Tsar Saltan:


Ivashko and the Witch:

Silver Roan:


Sometimes it is not always possible to understand from which story a porcelain figure originates from. Especially for example, when we are looking at horses and Prince Ivan. Whilst the stories are of different times they seem also to be similar in many ways with the same characters in different stories.

For example there is an old witch called Baba Yaga who is mostly bad, but sometimes she can be just a little cunning and demanding. She also has 2 sisters who are also called Baba Jaga. Therefore it can be rather confusing to establish the exact story .

It should also be noted that many of these ‘traditional’ Russian folk stories originate from the 1001 Arabian nights stories and have been transported Northwards and Westwards and blended into Slavic Russian Culture. We must remember the movements of peoples over the centuries have travelled from the Turkish/Arabian/Persian region, the Indian Sub Continent and from the far East From China and Mongolia. The Russian alphabet, language and Orthodox Church have their origins directly from Greece, travelling up and around the Black Sea to the Heart of Western Russia. There were also some occasional contacts from the Viking explorers and then the Prussian Knights who held many great battles in the North West area, followed by years of fighting with Swedish Armies and The Napoleonic war times. Even in trade, the influence of the West, in particular from the Hanseatic League was felt.

Peter The Great, was the first Tsar to really travel, explore and whole heartedly try to encourage this vast country to become more Westernised and bring it up to date in the New Technologies of the day. Hence St. Petersburg was built and the Dutch style of architecture is clearly evident in the city centre. Today it is still a wonderfully interesting and fascinating city to look at and explore because of this great architecture started exactly 300 years ago in the marshy region on the River Neva in The very North West Corner of the largest country in the world.

All of these influences can be seen in the origins of the Tales and history with which we see in the manufacture, development, sculpture, artwork and expression of Russian porcelain.The fall of the Tzar and the rise of Communisim affected Porcelain greatly and the period from 1917 up to the 1930’s are greatly admired by collectors and prices are very high for good quality items from this period.

PHW 2002





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