When Ready, the Samovar is Always Inviting

After private collecting had been legalized in our country, it was very popular and became a way of life for many people. A private collector can follow his or her tastes and passions preserving only those articles which are important for him or her. Many skillfully made collections formed a basis for museum collections later. To collect, to preserve the heritage of the past centuries, not to let it be lost is a task that requires full devotion. Such people deserve special respect.

The exhibition “When Ready, the Samovar is Always Inviting” from the collection of Viktor Nikolaevich Sapivuz was opened in the Cook-house in June, 2013.

The following explanation can be found in the dictionary of V.I. Dal: “Samovar is a vessel used to boil water for tea, often made of cooper with a pipe inside”. So the samovar is used to heat water. But it meant much more for the Russian way of life. Decorating the house, the samovar held a specific place among other cooper articles. It quickly became one of the original things of Russian decorative and applied arts as Russian artistic metal. Decoration of samovars could satisfy the whole variety of artistic and aesthetic requirements of all strata of Russian society. Its introduction in Russia was closely connected with those significant reforms in the economic, political, and public life of Russia which took place during the reign of Peter I. Active development of ore deposits of the Urals in the early 18th century and establishment of a number of iron and steel enterprises, including cooper works, promoted it. It resulted in the fact that “cooper in very short supply that wasn’t almost extracted in our country was exported in the second half of the 18th century”.

Moscow, Vologda, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, and Tula were traditional centres of making copperware. But those technological ways of manufacture of copper articles complicated in forms and richly decorated and those main tools which were often used to make samovars were formed exactly at the Ural enterprises. They began to produce kettles with a handle there in the 1730s. Later they started to manufacture large cooking pots with pipes and boilers for distillation. In all probability, these very forms gave impetus to making of an ancient Russian drink from honey with spices – sbeeten. “Sbetennik” is a kettle with a pipe and a lattice. The Russian samovar originates from sbetenniks. Since the 1730s, all details of the samovar - a pan, handles, lids, faucets - were made separately and then were fixed to the body. The body itself was treated on a special anvil. Later it was applied at any samovar factory and in any samovar workshop. At the end of the 18th century, the samovar already had its distinctive features and those structural and functional peculiarities necessary for water heating. They are usual for us and thus we can consider the samovar to be a purely national article. They are the following: a pipe in the form of a jug soldered in the body of the samovar, an ash-pit, handles with holders, a crown, a cover, and caps. The process of samovar manufacture mainly consisted of 12 stages. Labour was strictly divided. There were almost no cases when a master made the whole samovar himself.

The appearance and decoration of samovar forms changed in accordance with variations of public taste. There were samovars in the form of a vase, a small glass, a jar; some of them were of non-standard shape. Every factory tried to invent their own forms different from others. Production of samovars turned out to be quite profitable business. Artisans quickly established workshops, workshops turned into factories. Tula occupied one of the first places in the Russian Empire according to manufacture of samovars in the second half of the 19th century. There were 50 factories with the annual output of 660 thousand samovars in Tula in 1912-1913.

27 samovars displayed at the exhibition were manufactured at the widely known Russian samovar factories of the “samovar kings”: the Batashovs, the Tejle, the Votontsovs, the Shemarins, the Kapyrzins. They started the whole dynasties of samovar manufacturers.

The samovars of the Batashovs Factory were much in demand in the 1860s. They were very popular at Russian and foreign fairs because they were relatively cheap and of high quality. The Batashovs introduced their samovars at the fairs in Vienna and Petersburg in 1871 and 1873. After the Petersburg fair, their samovars appeared in the houses of the nobility. The All-Russian fairs also supposed that the material was Russian and workers were Russians by birth. Technical equipment of the factory and the beauty of the building were taken into account as well. The State coat-of-arms approved by the Ministry of Finance for the best factory-made articles was considered to be the highest award. The heirs of the Batashovs were given it for the manufacture of samovars in 1896. The form of their articles changed and, at the end of the 19th century, they made samovars of 165 various shapes.

The Factory of Brothers Shemarins was opened in 1887. They delivered their samovars to different Russian cities and supplied the court of the Persian shah. Their articles were presented at the World Fair in Paris in 1889 and were awarded the large silver medal. They also received an honorary diploma in Glasgow in 1901. 740 people worked at the factory in 1913 and manufactured up to 200 samovars every day.

The Samovar Factory of Kapyrzin was founded in 1860. His successors made about 100 different forms of samovars with the capacity of 2 to 80 litres, including kitchen samovars, in the early 20th century.

The Vorontsovs had one of the most famous samovar factories. It was founded in 1862. Its articles were notable for high quality, long service life and highly artistic decoration. They fit in any interior. About 6000 thousand samovars of various forms were manufactured at the factory per year. Vorontsov was given the title “Manufacturer of the Court of His Imperial Majesty”. Their samovars were displayed at almost all Russian and foreign fairs.

Prussian Emil Tejle was a Russian general. Having retired, he decided to start some useful business. Thus, the Samovar Factory of Reyngold and Emil Tejle was founded in 1870. First they manufactured lids for samovars and supplied them to the Batashov Factory. Two years later, they arranged their own production. The mark “Samovars of the Trading House of V.G. Tejle and Sons” could be seen on their articles since 1892.

The Factory of Merchant Ivan Kapyrzin was opened in Tula in 1860. There were 20 workers there till 1890, but they manufactured up to 100 forms of samovars, including the ones in fashionable styles “rococo” and “Renaissance”. Vase-shaped samovars were very refined and elegant. The articles of Kapyrzin were much in demand. Brass, copper, cupronickel, wood were used to make them. Seven medals and the sign “K” which was the quality mark of the samovars were depicted on the body. The factory was nationalized in 1921 and renamed into the Lenin First Samovar Factory. It continued manufacturing samovars that were popular all over the world for many years.

Samovars manufactured at the Factory of Grigory Ivanovich Tulyakov were of high quality, had simple and refined forms. They became especially famous in Tula after they had been awarded at various fairs and exhibitions. Medals of 1897, 1899, 1902 and 1903 decorated the articles of the factory. Tulyakov mainly used brass and tombac. Samovars were made in the form of cylinder, turnip, jar, vase, and cup.

There were several samovar institutions in the Danilov district within more than century-old history of samovar manufacture. But the Samovar Factory of the Pushkovs founded in the 1830s was the most famous among them. Maria Dmitrievna Pushkova owned it in 1906. Samovars manufactured at this factory had the trademark “Factory of N.V. Pushkovs in Danilov”.

Samovars of the Factory “Alenchikov and Zimin” could rival the articles of Tula. The factory was founded in Moscow in 1880 and was called “Trading House of I.A. Alenchikov and N.S. Zimin”. It manufactured samovars which received a lot of awards at various fairs. These were imprints of the medals got in Berlin with the depiction of Leopold P., of the Central Asian Fair of 1891 and others. Cooper and brass were applied to make samovars. They were given various names because of different design: “Moscow Pot” – a famous samovar made of brass with stylish handles and a delicate tap; “Medal Jar” – made in the form of the samovar jar with figured handles and a vertical tap; “Smooth Glass” – made of polished brass (rhe samovar-jar of this factory is displayed at the exhibition). The extant samovars of factory “Alenchikov and Zimin” amaze people with wonderful appearance, functionality and can decorate any collection now.

The exhibition presents the samovar made at the first factory in Tula known from the archival sources. It was founded in 1778 and belonged to Nazar Fyodorovich Lisitsyn. It was nationalized in 1917 and its articles had the trademark “Samovar Factory of the First Cooperative Artel Awarded the 1st Degree Diploma”.

Along with the samovars, visitors can see towels, candy boxes, tea pots and sugar bowls from the collection of Viktor Nikolaevich Sapivuz at the exhibition.

L.M. Kharlapenkova, research officer of the Exposition and Exhibition Department

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