Members' Window # 45  
by Willand Ringborg
click on images to enlarge


At first sight, the calling card case illustrated in January Members' Window is stamped correctly according to Russian hallmarking and assaying regulations, it is nothing curious with the later Soviet time stamp, it is fairly common as it was sometimes necessary to re-stamp before resale or to present to a pawn-shop.

Annoying, and which is arising some doubts, the motive does not seem to be of Russian style or tradition, rather, as mentioned, China and Far East.

..……..But, the hallmark by the assayer shown in the photo, the double-headed eagle was used in assaying as coat-of arms for St Petersburg up to 1751 and then replaced by the well-known crossed anchors and scepter……

……....and the oval assay stamp shown in the photo was introduced 1882 and used to 1889, so maybe we here we have an anomaly?…..

….…...but, is it a double-headed eagle? It seems as it has only one head and that is the coat-of-arms of Poland and Warsaw! And Warsaw was under the imperial Russian assaying regime from 1860s to the 90s, consistent to the assay mark regime from 1882 and stamped fineness 84?.....

……....but, is it not something wrong with the eagle, it looks more like a butterfly or a dragon, and it seems to have one and a half head? Where have we seen such an eagle?
This is an eagle zoomed up from a much lesser stamp, namely the additional stamp of a supplier to the Russian imperial court. These stamps contain the Romanoff family coat-of-arms, - the double eagle - they are small, vary from supplier to supplier, they are less distinctive and precise, and sometimes look as butterflies.
A forger has been in action. How can we be sure of that? By the 4 in the fineness stamp 84 on the left half of the stamp. The assaying double stamp from 1882 was distinctly divided in two halves and each sign in each half fully included in that part.
In this stamp parts of the digit 4 violate this and are exceeding the center line. The stamp is a forgery.
…….But, maybe the silver of fineness 84 zolotniki exactly corresponds to the fineness of 875/000 in the later stamp?
If so, this is maybe an antique Russian object? The Soviet sharp stamp of a star with hammer and sickle is there, the letter K for Kiev and 875 for fineness in an oval, double cut, this is exactly what should be there according to the assay rules after 1958. Yes, …..

…….but, isn’t it something wrong with the 8? It looks like a S. ….and, why is 875 not in line, why is 7 a little higher up?..... and why are all the digits hooked to the frame by a minor connecting strip?.... and why is the letter K connected to the star? The letter should be hanging free. ….and why is the star connected to the oval frame?... and why is the star open in the direction south-west?... and why is the outer frame open in the same direction? These observations are not in line with how it should look like.
The forger has probably used a sheet of iron, used fine scissors as when cutting a piece of paper as when doing a silhouette and finally made the cut of the outer frame of the double cut oval, welded the pattern to a stronger piece of iron, and,….stamped. The reconstruction of this kind of craftsmanship is of course speculative, but nevertheless, this stamp, on the same calling card case, is also a forgery.

The crook that made the stamps has made a common mistake; he was misreading Russian assay regulations and did put too much effort in producing these stamps compared to the effort to decode the falsification.
In the same Members' Window Giorgio Busetto shows a different fake on another piece, where the forger, unfamiliar with the Cyrillic alphabet, turn it in front and behind. The stamp from a court supplier he was intending to copy was probably not Kurliokov, but Chlebnikov, but mixing it all up. Nevertheless the cross over the girl with the kokoshnik, the identity mark, is a sign of that the piece was to be taken abroad and then, to be re-stamped, if brought back to Russia. This stamp is extremely seldom seen, why pay a stamp fee if you are moving abroad or selling something to a foreigner? The photo does not allow a thorough examination of the stamp, but in the context, the authenticity of the hallmarking is to be doubted.
(In the mark above the Cyrillic characters are wrong. They look right in the mirrored image below )
The calling card case first shown, regardless of silver content, is extremely valuable as an example of faked stamps and how they are used in combination to offer a story that the evidence for proof is present. Flea markets do not often represent the best expertise in Russian hallmarking, and if this piece was offered as authentic by a professional antique dealer, then there are reasons to mistrust that profession, and maybe also experts from museums……..

……..but, there is always access to some additional expertise available, - the ASCAS family.

Willand Ringborg
- 2008 -