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Saturday, 15 April 2017
Romanov Photographs and Letters Presented on British Antiques Roadshow Programme
Topic: Antiques

Antiques Roadshow © 2017
Note: if any of our readers has any additional information about the origin of these photos and letters, and/or information on William Linton, please contact me at - - any information shared will be held in the strictest of confidence - Paul Gilbert

Antiques Roadshow © 2017
After being locked in a safe for nearly a century, a unique discovery was made last week on a popular British television program, which consisted of a largely unseen collection of letters and a private album containing photographs of the last Imperial Russian Family.

The collection was presented during an episode of BBC Antiques Roadshow, on Sunday, April 9,  at Pembroke Castle in Wales, and evaluated by British dealer Clive Farahar. 

The album - which appears to be in a very good condition - contains a collection of photographs of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Based on the video (which can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the bottom of this article), none of the photographs in the album appear to be new. Many have been published in various pictorials over the years, some of which may very well have been taken by Pierre Gilliard. It was common for members of the Imperial family to have copies of photographs duplicated, and shared with their relation and members of the Imperial household staff, for their own personal albums, or as keepsake memories. 

The owner claims that the letters belonged to his step-father’s uncle, William Linton, who was working as an engineer in Ekaterinburg in 1918. He further notes that the photo album had been given to Linton by one of the Empress Alexandra’s maids (possibly Anna Demidova). The maid asked his father to take the photograph album for "safekeeping". Given that Demidova was being held with the Imperial family in the Ipatiev House, it is highly unlikely that they could have been “passed” to Linton, unless perhaps, they had been smuggled out of the Ipatiev House?

But the real value of this collection lies in the letters. Never before seen, the owner claims that they have been lying in a safe for the better part of a hundred years. Below, is an excerpt from one of the letters:

“For the last two days they have been pumping the water out of an old shaft in the forest, around which they found traces of the ex-royal family, and I think there is no doubt that their bodies will be found down at the bottom weighed down with stones.” 

Clive Farahar is a British dealer and expert on books and manuscripts, he writes and lectures and is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association. He is best known as an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, which he joined in 1986. 

Antiques Roadshow © 2017

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 April, 2017

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:02 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2017 6:39 AM EDT
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Friday, 20 November 2015
Russian Antique Porcelain: Originals and Counterfeits
Topic: Antiques

Antiques have long been attractive investments. Experts say that the annual turnover of the world antiques market is $27 billion. Hundreds of auctions are held every year in Europe alone. The Russian antiques market is still at its early stages, but it is evolving very quickly, with Russian antique porcelain among its most promising and stable investment areas.

What types of Russian porcelain are considered antique today?

Porcelain is very fragile and expensive. It only grows more valuable with time. Of course, not all porcelain items are interesting to collectors. The porcelain wares that enjoy steady demand were produced by Russian porcelain factories in 18th-19th centuries: the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St. Petersburg (1744–1917), the Gardner Manufacture in the Moscow Governorate village of Verbilki (1766–1892), the Matvei Kuznetsov Factory in the Vladimir Governorate village of Dulyovo (1832–1917), the St. Petersburg Kornilov Brothers’ Factory (1835–1917) and the Popov Factory in the Moscow Governorate village of Gorbunovo (1811–1875).

Out of the porcelain items listed above, the ones produced by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory (IPM) are valued the most. Outstanding pieces of art were made at the factory that was established in 1744 specifically to produce porcelain table-ware and decorative items for the Russian royal family. The factory reached the height of its art in early 19th century. In late 19th century, Emperor Alexander III arranged that all orders of the royal family be made in two sets, one of them for the factory’s museum. The tradition of regularly adding new items to the museum collection survived into the 20th century, including the Soviet era. The factory’s porcelain is very popular among collectors, especially when it comes to the plates in the so-called “war series.”

For a whole century, from 1812 to 1912, the IPM produced plates with highly detailed depictions of battles. Even uniforms of officers from different regiments and branches of service were painted in the tiniest detail. Some of the plates portrayed famous military leaders. One of these plates was recently sold for $80,500 at a Christie’s auction.

As for the rest of the porcelain factories, items produced in the same period can be valued at very different prices. Take the Kuznetsov Factory. It mostly produced commercial products for the mass market. At the same time, the factory took orders from the royal family’s circle and sometimes made additional pieces for sets produced by the IPM, mostly for Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich. Naturally, those items cost more.

What types of Russian porcelain are better investments?

Buying Russian antique porcelain is making a good investment. It constantly grows in value. In addition to the “war series” plates mentioned above, plates from various late 18th-early 19th century sets—Arabeskovy, Babiegonsky, Banketny, Biryuzovy, Kabinetsky, Ministersky, Mikhailovsky, Palevy, Yusupovsky and others—are in high demand. Plates from the Ordensky sets (produced by the Gardner Manufacture in late 18th century and inspired by Orders of Alexander Nevsky, St. Andrew, St. George, etc.) are also highly valued. Needless to say, all these items are quite costly, since most of them are custom-made. Still, there are rather early products of the IPM that can be purchased at a small price, like ‘ordinary plates’ made under orders from royal offices in large volumes—800 pieces per month and 10,000 pieces per year.

Famous Russian porcelain collections

But who buys Russian antique porcelain? The most striking and famous collections can be found abroad. Foreign collectors buy Russian porcelain methodically and thoughtfully, with 9 out of 10 pieces in a given collection being very valuable (in Russia it is usually the other way round). One of the most famous Russian porcelain collections belongs to the head of Ferrari. Maurice Baruch, co-owner of Galerie Popoff & Cie in Paris, is the possessor of a very distinguished collection as well. The collection of Mstislav Rostropovich, mostly assembled in France, can also be considered foreign.

What Russian porcelain pieces can be sold at a profit?

The demand for antiques depends on a number of factors, such as age, quality, rarity and prominence. As for the latter quality, there is a catch: most collectors know Gardner’s Ordensky plates and royal family pieces, but nearly no-one remembers Batenin’s early works. Some items are sublimely made, but if their authors are not well-known, they are not very expensive. This is something to consider.

The pieces that remain popular and thus sought-after include porcelain figures made by the IPM and Gardner’s Factory, as well as fuseau (spindle shaped) vases.

Is it better to buy Russian porcelain in Russia or abroad? The advantage of buying antique Russian porcelain in Russia is the price: porcelain can cost four times less here than in the West. The disadvantages include the underdeveloped market and the quality of expertise: there are no guarantees against counterfeits.

Originals and Counterfeits

Rarity and high value gives fertile ground to counterfeiting. Antique porcelain is as popular among counterfeiters as Impressionist paintings. Which Russian porcelain pieces are counterfeited the most?

Firstly, agit-porcelain from the early Soviet era (late 1910s-early 1920s). As a rule, counterfeiters take rather good semi-manufactured Japanese porcelain, decorate it, make it look old through special treatment and pass it off as an original. In late 1980s-early 1990s agit-porcelain could cost $40–50,000 per plate, and imitators made fortunes. Sometimes counterfeits were so good that even museum experts could mistake them for originals: a while ago, a museum in Kuskovo bought a few agit-plates, and a museum employee discovered a nearly-scratched-off “Made in Japan” inscription under the State Porcelain Manufactory (ex-IPM) stamp on one of the pieces.

Suprematist porcelain has been just as ill-fated. That porcelain was produced by SPM in mid-20th century based on sketches by Kazimir Malevich. It has often been counterfeited due to its imperfect quality: by that time, there were no stocks of semi-manufactured porcelain and the Suprematist porcelain was produced using rather low-quality gray material that can be easily fabricated.

Not so long ago, IPM cups from the era of Nicholas II emerged on the antiques market. It took time to discover they were fake—their quality was rather high. Apparently they were made in St. Petersburg. But it is doubtful and unlikely that the masters of the modern IPM produce counterfeits in their after-work hours. Although those counterfeits were made from high-quality porcelain mixture with good colors, a close look at the pattern showed that its decorators were used to brushes instead of fine-tipped porcelain markers.

There are also many counterfeits of Gardner’s figures from late 19th century. How can one tell if they are not real? After all, they are made from good porcelain mixture, with fine colors and distinct stamps. There is a small difference, though: they are a little heavier than originals.

There are, no doubt, pieces that take too much effort and money to counterfeit: high-priced decorative vases from late 20th century are almost never counterfeited. But even the most experienced and sophisticated collectors who trust their instincts have a risk of being swindled. This is why they consult experts. If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.

© Russkiy Mir. 20 November, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:27 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 20 November 2015 1:29 PM EST
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Tuesday, 5 May 2015
19th Century Russian Medallion Featured in UK Antique Show
Topic: Antiques

A 19th century Russian medallion created by Faberge’s rival was presented on the popular British TV antiques show Antiques Roadshow
Photo © BBC
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the May 5th, 2015 edition of the Accrington Observer. The author Mary Naylor owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

When a 19th century Russian medallion created by Faberge’s rival was presented on the Antiques Roadshow its owner had little idea of its value.

Paul Bolton, 60, appeared on the TV antiques show with his brother Colin, 58, to present their family heirlooms to expert Clive Stewart-Lockhart.

The medallion and photo album, valued at up to £9,000 combined, belonged to their great-grandfather John Bolton, who worked for Accrington-based textile machine manufacturers Howard and Bullough.

Howard and Bullough exported machinery internationally during the industrial revolution and staff were sent out to help set up the machines. John Bolton was one such employee who found himself in the mill town of Yegoryevsk, about 80 miles south east of Moscow.

He eventually became a director at the 5,000-employee factory. In 1895 the mill celebrated its 50th anniversary and John Bolton and two other directors were presented with commemorative medallions and photo albums.

Paul started researching his family and heirlooms when he discovered the medallion was created by Fedor Lorie, a contemporary of Faberge, egg-maker to the Tsars. Lorie was sometimes commissioned by Faberge to create works.

Paul said: “It was not until I started to look into it and I found out Lorie was linked with Faberge that I felt it was something important. I knew the medallion was one of three, but Faberge gets you a little bit excited!”

The two items were valued separately by Clive Stewart-Lockhart when the Antiques Roadshow visited Lowther Castle in Penrith.

He was unsure of the exact value of the gold medallion but did say: “I feel sure that it must be worth at least £5,000 and maybe quite a bit more.”

Of the album he said: “There is a huge interest now in photos of Russia, particularly of this period and I’m sure this kind of thing is quite a rare survivor. It paints a wonderful picture of a town at a particular moment and I am quite sure the people of Yegoryevsk would be interested in it. An album like this is going to be worth at least £3-4,000.”

Paul was pleasantly surprised by the value of the two items.

He said: “I had no inkling they would be worth that much. If nothing else we need to get them insured.” 
© Mary Naylor / Accrington Observer. 05 May, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:52 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2015 6:59 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Counterfeits Flood Russian Antiques Market
Topic: Antiques
Buyer beware! After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Western market was flooded with forgeries of the 1896 Coronation Cup (photo) or Khodynka Cup of Sorrows. Highly sought after by collectors, many buyers pay huge sums to own one of these historic cups. It is just one of many items counterfeited by unscrupulous dealers.
At least half of the items in circulation on Russia's antiques market are counterfeits, which cost scammed collectors millions of rubles every year, according to antiques experts and law enforcement agencies.

Dishonest dealers and a lack of quality experts are the core of the problem, and solving it will have to go hand-in-hand with a change in mentality among merchants and buyers, experts said.

It is hard to track whether the number of fakes is growing or increasing every year because people still have a negative attitude toward the police and hesitant to report any incidents, said Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Kistochkin whose beat is the antiques market, which is estimated to be worth about $200 million in annual sales.

One thing is sure, he added: There are a lot of fakes in every antiques segment.

"Though all of Europe is buying and selling them, there were not that many [Ivan] Aivazovsky paintings ever made," Kistochkin said. "Even if the master's students were involved, their hands would have shriveled up if they tried to draw so many paintings."

About 2 million people in Russia collect antiques in some way, according to estimates by the Eastern European Antique House.

While the popularity of collecting has grown, experts said there was still no system for controlling counterfeits or punishing those responsible for making them.

Most antique dealers have a short sighted buy-and-sell mentality that shows no respect for the items or their clients, said Sergei Yunin, a major shareholder in the First Republican Bank and founder of the Eastern European Antique House.

"Dealers have the primitive psychology of Soviet-era profiteers," Yunin said, adding that all of the dealers he has met in his life were in some way dishonest.

Antiques evaluators often facilitate sales of counterfeits. It is hard to find competent — and most importantly, honest — antique experts that give accurate assessments of the item's value, said Vladimir Kazakov, general director of the National Institute of Independent Expertise.

Many of the current experts come from state structures, are aging and find it hard to resist the temptation of bribes, Kistochkin said. The situation is so bad that some of them are virtually on salary from dishonest dealers.

Despite the well-known problems in this market segment, the perpetrators of counterfeits easily escape punishment. The law states the consequences for stealing antiques is up to 15 years in jail,

depending on the item. But there is no separate article concerning those who produce counterfeits, lawyer Vladimir Sidyakin said.  

Even if the culprit is caught, it is hard to prove improper intent. The person could merely say that he painted a reproduction of a famous painting for his friends, Kistochkin said.

The Antique House plans to help control the number of fakes on the market by offering collectors an evaluation of items they are interested in through a panel of three independent experts with access to a top notch technical laboratory. However, since there will be more experts involved, the service will cost 40 to 50 percent more than similar services currently on the market, such at the expertise offered by the Historical Museum's Society of Friends. 
© The Moscow Times. 28 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 September 2013 9:29 AM EDT
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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Pair of Imperial Russian Vases Found in Oklahoma
Topic: Antiques
Two vases from Russia’s Imperial Factory of porcelain were recently found in Oklahoma and have been identified by the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The vases are valued at $1.5–2.5 million and will be put on sale on Apr. 17 at the Dallas Auction Gallery in Texas.

These monumental vases, 4.4-feet-tall and dating back to 1832, are surely among the most beautiful pieces of Russian porcelain presented on the market in recent years. The estimated worth is $1.5–2.5 million for each vase.

Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya is the curator of the porcelain department at the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and the expert charged with the authentication of these pieces. “The discovery of these vases is a real event. They mark the golden age of Russian porcelain production during the reign of Nicholas I, and the quality of their execution is exceptional,” says Khmelnitskaya.

During the 19th century, monumental vases like these were created to decorate the vast Imperial palaces and residences. They were often commissioned by the emperor himself, who presented them to royal families or to foreign diplomats. Made in the classical style, their bellies portray reproductions of paintings by Dutch masters from the Hermitage’s collections. “These remarkable paintings are signed M. Golov and M. Meschcheniakov — undeniably the best copy-makers onto porcelain of that time,” Khmelnitskaya says. “And what a surprise to find these treasures of the czar in the middle of the Far West!”

The vases were bought from a Munich gallery in the mid-1920s by Frank Buttram. At the time, Buttram was an oil magnate, philanthropist and art enthusiast from Oklahoma traveling through Europe. Probably, then, the vases are among the countless Imperial riches scattered by the Communists upon their arrival to power.

After nearly a century in the family collection, the vases are finally to be presented to the public and will be put up for sale on Apr. 17 at the Dallas Auction Gallery. Buttram’s descendants have expressed the wish to see the vases return to their country of origin.

© Rossiyskaya Gazeta. 14 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2013 5:43 PM EST
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Friday, 16 November 2012
Naryshkin Treasure to be Divided Between Museums
Topic: Antiques


The vast trove of Imperial treasures found in the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy Mansion in St. Petersburg earlier this year will be divided between two museums.

One half will go to the Konstantin Palace at Strelna, while the other half will go to Pavlovsk Palace-Museum. It is not known at this time exactly what items each museum will receive, but Pavlovsk have already announced plans to create an exhibition once they have been received and catalogued their share.

Restoration work was being carried out at the former Naryshkin-Trubetskoy mansion at 29 Tchaikovsky Street (the same street that housed the former palace of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna) when a secret room was discovered. The room measuring about 5 square meters contained an enormous treasure of more than 2,000 items that had sat hidden since before the Russian Revolution.

For more information, including photographs and a video of the treasure, please refer to the following links at Royal Russia News:

||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-century St Petersburg Mansion includes more than 50 colour photos! |||

 ||| Tsarist-Era Treasures Found in 18th-Century St Petersburg Mansion  includes 16 minute video|||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 November, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 16 November 2012 10:49 AM EST
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Sunday, 28 October 2012
An Important Collection of Russian Books & Manuscripts with Imperial Provenance
Topic: Antiques


Photo Credit: Christie's 

On 29 November 2012, Christie’s (London) will have the great privilege of offering for sale the largest group of Russian books and manuscripts with noble provenance to come to auction in decades: the collections of Emperors Paul I, Alexander I, Alexander II, Alexander III, Nicholas I, Nicholas II, Empress Elizabeth, and numerous Grand Dukes and Duchesses are all represented. The fate of books from the Russian palaces mirrors that of the palaces themselves: war and revolution took their brutal toll. Material with imperial provenance of the quality and importance represented in this collection is seldom offered for sale, and hardly ever in quantity. It would be virtually impossible to form another of this scope and caliber today. Highlights include The Coronation Album of Alexander III (estimate: £70,000 – 100,000, illustrated above) and a unique album of drawings of the coats-of-arms of members of the court of the future Emperor Paul (1796-1801), son of Catherine the Great (estimate: £150,000 – 200,000).

The books and manuscripts offered in this collection come from one of the most important philanthropists and collectors of the 19th century, J. Pierpoint Morgan (1837-1913). 

© Christie's London. 28 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:59 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2012 8:01 AM EDT
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Thursday, 25 October 2012
Sotheby's Offers Icon Commemorating Survival of Imperial Family at Borki
Topic: Antiques


Sotheby's London will offer an important Imperial Silver-Gilt and Cloisonne Enamel Icon of Christ Pantocrator, (Ovchinnikov, Moscow, 1884) – commemorating the miraculous survival of Emperor Alexander III and his family when the Imperial train derailed disastrously near Borki in 1888. Twenty-one members of the Imperial retinue died and in the richly-appointed dining car, the Emperor’s dog Kamchatka was killed instantly at his master’s feet. The Emperor, who held up the collapsing roof of the car to allow his family to escape, was later presented with this Icon by his elite guards. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recalled the terrible scene of the aftermath in her memoirs: “I found myself at the bottom of a steep slope which the carriage had rolled down. I got up onto my feet and looked back. I saw bleeding people tumbling and falling down after me … It was dreadful … I thought all my loved ones had been killed.” In both state decrees and church sermons this event was presented as proof of God’s divine intervention. Inscribed ‘[From the] Guards [to] Their Imperial Majesties’ and ‘On the Occasion of the Miraculous Rescue during the Imperial Train’s Accident’, the Icon speaks potently of devotion and of the bond between Tsar and people.

Hung in the chapel at Gatchina – the Emperor’s favourite imperial residence – the icon was kept as an important family relic of deep personal significance. Exquisitely enamelled with floral detailing, this rare and richly historical work displays the most filigree craftsmanship and is saturated in Romanov history. After the Revolution this powerfully emotive Icon was believed to be among many of the Imperial family’s belongings that were dispersed on the European antiquarian market. The sale will take place at Sotheby's in London on November 28th, and carries an estimate of £180,000-250,000.

© Sotheby's and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:50 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 October 2012 10:32 AM EDT
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Monday, 8 October 2012
Rare Tsarskoye Selo Book Presented to Putin
Topic: Antiques


Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented President Vladimir Putin with a rare book to mark the Russian president's 60th birthday on October 7th.

The book, Tsarskoye Selo During the Reign of Empress Elizabeth was written by Alexander Benois, and published in 1910. No reprint of this book has been produced since.

In his book, Benois recreates the story behind the construction and development of Tsarskoye Selo during the and reign of the daughter of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia from 1741-1762.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:10 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 October 2012 10:21 AM EDT
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Monday, 16 July 2012
Auction of Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain
Topic: Antiques


Part of a 19th Century banquet service that once belonged to Emperor Alexander III of Russia—is set to come under the hammer at West Midlands’ auction house Cuttlestones on Friday 14th September 2012.

All matching, the twelve pieces comprise six soup bowls and six plates that were made at, and carry the marks of, the Imperial Porcelain factory in St Petersburg. The delicate design combines scalloped edges with gilt decoration; each piece emblazoned with the cipher of Alexander III beneath the Imperial crown. In exceptional condition, carrying no cracks or chips and with just minor rubbing to the gilt, these are a very special find – as Adrian Simmons, specialist ceramics valuer at Cuttlestones, explains:

These are an unusual offering of pre-revolutionary Russian porcelain, and have a cast iron Royal connection. It is very rare for matching groups to come onto the market, normally just odd ones and pairs appear.

© Cuttlestones. 16 July, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:38 AM EDT
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