Russian silver differs to Irish and British silver, in that instead of being hallmarked 925 for 92.5% silver, the hallmark reads 84. Russian silver content is measured in zolotiniks, a unit of measurement used from the 10th-20th century. The Romanov family ruled Russia for three centuries, and thus the different periods of reign had an effect on the current silver style.
In this month’s auction, we have a silver sugar bowl from the reign of Nicholas Pavlov Romanov, or Tsar Nicolas I, who ruled over Russia from 1822-1855. The silver during his reign has a naturalistic style, with a simple form but ornate decoration, and this sugar bowl is a perfect example of this. The lid of the sugar bowl is ornately decorated, with a flower sprouting from the top, surrounded by a bed of leaves. Scrollwork encases the lid, with thicker filigree work on the surround of the bowl itself. Both of the handles showcase a high-relief engraving style of natural form, complimenting the shallow engravings of similar design throughout the exterior of the bowl.
The base of the bowl is stamped 84, reflecting the silver content in zolotiniks. The hallmark of a grapnel and scepter crossing tells us that the sugar bowl was made and assayed in St. Petersburg, with the preceding hallmarks indicating it was assayed in 1843 by Dimitry Ilyich Tverskoy.