Set of six hallmarked Moscow demitasse spoons circa 1855
featuring niello views of the Kremlin and Red Square
in the middle of the nineteenth century.
Each spoon ranges from approximately 111 to 112mm in length,
with a bowl that is from 23 to almost 25mm in width. Each
weighs from approximately twenty to almost twenty-two grams.
The interiors of the bowls are gold plated. The rest of each
spoon's surface has taken on the light golden hue frequently
seen on old silver that has not been polished in many years.
The differences in length and/or width are typical of 19th
century handmade silver objects; frankly, the differences
are miniscule and impossible to notice without using a scale
and a micrometer. Some of the views on the spoons are
unchanged today (i.e. St. Basil's and the Spasskaya Tower)
while others are of buildings or architectural vistas that
no longer exist except in old engravings and photographs.
Each spoon shows at least all or part of three hallmarks:
the silhouette of St. George (for Moscow), "84" to indicate
the silver content, and the cyrllic initials "BC" for Viktor
Stavinkov. Two spoons have extra hallmarks: one has a mark
that that is illegible while the other seems to be the
letters "W O". None of the spoons shows enough of the year
date for us to be absolutely positive when the spoons were
made. Stavinkov was active from 1855 to 1888. The partially
visible tops of characters in the date stamp appear to be
"18" and two completely flat topped digits, which could work
out to be "1855", "1857", "1875" or "1877". Personally, we
would like to think that he made these during his first year
of operation in Moscow: "1855."
Excellent condition. The tip of one handle shows a minor
scratch but otherwise each spoon is in almost the same
condition that it was in when it first came from Stavinkov's
Moscow workshop. The niello views of the Kremlin are
complete and show no loss of pigment. (Niello, of
course, is a black metallic alloy of sulfur, copper, silver,
and usually lead, used as an inlay on engraved metal - in
this case silver - to create a dark and clear design,
pattern, or picture.) The incidental decoration - below and
around the pictures on each spoon - is quite attractive and
delightfully "impressionistic" - the geometric precision of
Faberge's workshop was still two or three generations in the
future from when these six spoons were made.
A truly impressive set. A good framer could create a hinged
frame that would allow you to display them between uses!
They would look particularly nice on a sideboard next to tea
set or a samovar!