RUSSIAN ANTIQUE SILVER
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There's a wide production of modern silver artifacts with fake Tsarist Russia hallmarks. They come from Poland, Ukraine, Romany, Hungary and other East European countries.
There are more or less three groups of fakes:
- Total fakes ( absolutely new): all the cloisonné enamel kovshi, beakers, cigarette cases, spoons etc. Niello (not real niello but chemical
oxydised), Fabergé and fantasy, Judaica of all kinds
- Authentic Russian silver but "upgraded" with the best names like Ovtschinnikov, Gratschev,
Klingert, Fabergé etc.
- Authentic European silver (mostly Austrian and French for niello, German etc.) with erased old hallmarks
and repunched with "new" Russian marks, mostly with the better names like Ovtschinnikov etc.
Preferred pieces are 'antique judaica' as torah pointers (yad) and spice containers (besamim) with bowing rabbi figures.|
Many of these pieces are offered on eBay but they are also presented on European Markets by Russians and East European sellers.
Usually they have 'kokoshnik' or 'St. George on horse' (Moskow) hallmarks apparently of the end of 19th or of the beginning of 20th century but I've seen some fake marks with 18th century dates.|
Another preferred field of counterfeits are the enamel on silver objects with preference for Fabergé, Ovchinnikov and Khlebnikov production.|
Forgery ranges from Easter eggs to salt cellars, from cups and saucers to spoons and many other objects.
Identification of fakes isn't an easy task as usually they have acceptable manufacturing quality and taste ... but they are 'modern pieces' disguised as 'old pieces'.
Quality of hallmark counterfeit is usually good and identification of anomalies or errors requests experience and a bit of luck.
Below is an example of investigation on Russian marks
My advice is to look for how fresh the hallmarks are, they should be quite worn from over 100 years of wear. If you see clear impressions of those marks, that may mean they are modern reproductions.
hallmarks above left are dubious:
assayer's hallmark has date partially erased, but assayer is AK Andrey Kovalskiy active 1827 - 1856
St.George on horse towards left is hallmark of Moskow 1891-1896, incoherent with assayer's mark date
hallmarks above right are correct:
assayer's hallmark AK 1850
St.George on horse towards right is hallmark of Moskow mid 19th century
Anyway, for objects and hallmarks illustrated on this page I use the definition 'of dubious origin' as a result of personal evaluations and knowledges of a small collector and NOT as an expert's opinion.
In some cases similar elements are used for different pieces put together by the 'assembly-line of ancient Russian silver'
The globe finial of this torah pointer is similar to 'besamim' spice container|
|The rabbi finial of this torah pointer is similar to rabbi on 'besamim' |
and the double headed eagle is similar to the eagle on previous torah pointer with spice container finial
cup with fake Ovchinnikov hallmarks
work in progress on this page - your help, corrections and suggestions will be greatly appreciated -