Merchant, manufacturer, collector A.M. Postnikov

Factory owner A.M. Postnikov
Factory owner A.M. Postnikov

Merchant, manufacturer, collector A.M. Postnikov In the Moscow trade in icons, Orthodox items made of silver and gold, the Postnikovs’ surname has been known since 1826. The merchant of the third guild from 1825 Mikhailo Alekseevich Postnikov kept trade shops in the Icon row of the City part for many years. No information was found whether they had any workshop with them, but A. I. Ivanov in his work “Masters of Gold and Silver Business in Russia” indicates that there was a brand of the company with the initials MP (Mikhailo Postnikov). The merchant’s family lived in the fortieth house in the first quarter of the Meshchansky part. Two sons of Mikhail Alekseevich were born there, who glorified their father’s surname.

Rook-shaped vase. The beginning of the 1880s.
Rook-shaped vase. The beginning of the 1880s.

Mikhailo Postnikov was not a simple merchant, but a connoisseur and collector of ancient icons, his activities determined the fate of children. Nikolai Mikhailovich, the eldest son, became a famous collector of ancient Russian icons. Part of his rich collection is in the Tretyakov Gallery, the Moscow Kremlin, and other Russian museums. The younger brother Andrei Mikhailovich Postnikov, born in 1830 (1835), also collected Russian icons for almost fifty years. His collection was much smaller and consisted of 211 items, among them were not only old ones, but also of the 19th century, painted in the style of the 15th 17th centuries. The main merit of Andrei Mikhailovich was the creation of a famous enterprise of silver, gold and especially bronze products.

A merchant of the second guild since 1865, Andrey Mikhailovich Postnikov, in his parents’ house in 1868, opened a factory of products made of bronze, silver, and gold. His father had died by that time. Production started with 50 workers, including apprentices, with one lathe, one crushing machine, two guilloche machines. The smelting forge and the blacksmith’s bellows were kept separate. By 1870, the annual turnover of the enterprise with 63 workers and 24 apprentices was 250,000 rubles, there was a smithy and workshops: carpentry, model, forged stones.

Cancer of the Annunciation Church 1894
Cancer of the Annunciation Church 1894


The manufacturer organized in 1870 a school for 47 places for a six-year course with general education disciplines, as well as teaching drawing, drawing, sculpture, and jewelry craft. The school was patronized by the Grand Duke Sergiy Alexandrovich, the fifth son of Alexander II. All students took exams in the Duma after each two-year course, and had benefits for military conscription.

Since 1877, the manufacturer has become a supplier to the Imperial Court, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and the English royal court.

At the end of the seventies, Postnikov rebuilt a separate capital building, equipped for the execution of dimensional work. In the early eighties, beyond the Tverskaya Zastava on the St. Petersburg highway, the manufacturer buys a plot of land, where he builds the main building and the buildings of a new modernly equipped factory. By 1882, the company employed about 150 workers, and the annual turnover was up to 500,000 rubles.

Part of the modern interior of the cathedral.
Part of the modern interior of the cathedral.

In 1886, the “Association of the AM Postnikov Metal Products Factory” was created with a fixed capital of 330,000 rubles. On Tverskaya Street, in a building once known as the Dolgorukov Palace, after changing the facade by architect S.F. Voskresensky, a passage was opened, which housed not only a trading area with Postnikov’s products, but other shops and offices. The name of the “Postnikovsky Passage” was assigned to the house.

Alexei Mikhailovich Postnikov died in 1900.The sons Dmitry Andreevich and Alexei Andreevich headed the enterprise, which ended in 1917.

Exhibitions and awards The company has participated in exhibitions since 1879 and received many distinctions. At the All-Russian Manufacturing Exhibition in St. Petersburg in 1870, she first attracted attention and provided Postnikov with a bronze medal, church utensils made of silver made by factory craftsmen. Two years later, at the Moscow Polytechnic Exhibition, then at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna and in Philadelphia at the 1876 International Exhibition, the company received the highest awards.

Postnikov. Silver tea set with the image of the Kremlin.
Silver tea set with the image of the Kremlin.

Postnikov. At the Vienna exhibition

Andrei Mikhailovich presented silver cabinet items, cutlery, as well as accessories for Orthodox worship. In Philadelphia, sets, ladles, cups, bowls, mugs, a bread basket, a casket, an album, a sculptural composition called “Krylov’s Quartet” and other small objects were exhibited. Everything was made of silver, gold, exclusively in the rich performance of the Russian style.

In Moscow in 1882, the All-Russian Art and Industry Exhibition unfolded on a colossal scale, where many magnificently designed pavilions were created for each industry. Postnikov’s showcases exhibited two chandeliers. One was of enormous size, costing 10,000 rubles, the second with enamel cost 6,000 rubles. Crosses, gospels, images, vessels, other silver, gold, bronze objects were presented: vases, salt shakers, caskets, the cost of which ranged from 8 rubles. up to 7,000 p. Among the items were items of amazing filigree (filigree) work, four icons, a gospel and a pair of glasses in the Indian style with red enamel on a black background and the finest filigree decor stood out. The products brought the owner a gold medal.

Postnikov. Small vase in gilded silver. Enamel over filigree. Moscow, 1888
Small vase in gilded silver. Enamel over filigree. Moscow, 1888

From the illustrated description of the All-Russian Art and Industry Exhibition in Moscow in 1882. Top center the facade of the factory. On the left in the oval is a school, on the right is a factory museum. The left image in the circle is a casting, the right one is a forge. In the right and left rectangles showcases of the enterprise at the Moscow All-Russian Exhibition of 1882. Workshops are displayed below.

At the same exhibition, the products were demonstrated by the son of the head of the enterprise Dmitry Andreevich Postnikov. It was a theatrical props made at a factory, first produced in Russia (previously it was ordered abroad), and ordered by the management of the Imperial Theaters in the amount of 50,000 rubles. Swords, chain mail, armor, swords, shields were skillfully and with historical truthfulness made from thin metal with gilding, embossing, magnificent imitation of precious stones.

There were many more awards and certificates that fell on the favorable fate of the enterprise.

Postnikov. Frame for the icon of Nikolai Mozhaisky.
Frame for the icon of Nikolai Mozhaisky.

Produced products

In the 1850-1860s of the 19th century, there were five artistic bronze manufactures in Moscow. Products from the fifties to the nineties were not in wide demand. Creating the factory, Andrei Mikhailovich Postnikov, a connoisseur of icons and Orthodox cult accessories, made a far-sighted decision to work not only with silver and gold, but also with bronze for items of rather large sizes.

The performance was in the Russian style, while, along with new techniques, the art of the old masters was studied and reproduced. The firm was notable for its particularly virtuoso openwork filigree, works in the Byzantine and Russian style of the 15th 17th centuries, as well as the production of large bronze chandeliers. The enterprise was not deprived of orders, especially those that came for temple decorations.

Postnikov. Road service 1873 Silver, gilding, mother-of-pearl, niello, shotting, defense.
Road service 1873 Silver, gilding, mother-of-pearl, niello, shotting, defense.

The story of the travel tea and coffee service, ordered in 1873 to Andrei Mikhailovich by Empress Maria Alexandrovna for the wife of the American ambassador to Hong Kong, is amazing. When Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich came to Hong Kong in 1872, Lady Kennedy welcomed the Emperor’s son during his stay. It is not known what adventures the service went through, but in 1990, during Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Italy, Postnikov’s precious work was donated by the Italian millionaire and philanthropist Marco Datrino to the President of the Soviet Union. Now this masterpiece is in the Moscow Kremlin Museum. The service is made of silver with a pattern and gilding in the Russian style. It includes ten items: a massive dish with a panoramic view of the Kremlin, a sugar bowl, a creamer, a teapot, a coffee pot, a spoon-strainer, two teaspoons, and sugar tweezers.

To order and for sales, the store produced sets, cups, vases, all types of cutlery and tableware, office accessories, clocks, elegant desktop folders (cribs), albums, cigarette cases, sculptures, all kinds of church accessories, icons. The products combined skillful silver filigree, gilding and magnificent ornaments. Also, medals, award and uniform insignia, buttons were made.

Postnikov. Pseudo-Russian style ladle, 1877 Silver, gilding,
Pseudo-Russian style ladle, 1877 Silver, gilding,
Temple Products

Postnikov’s enterprise created a lot of precious icon frames, churches and temples decoration items. Many orders were government orders, one of which was made to the firm in the early eighties for the manufacture of individual parts for the interior of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

For the Annunciation Church, one of the oldest in Moscow, built in 1397, Postnikov received a state order for a project with the manufacture of a large bronze reliquary to accommodate 28 arks with temple relics, a fence for it and two floor candlesticks. The project and sketches made by the son of the manufacturer Dmitry Andreevich, who participated in the planning of the structures, were submitted in 1891 for the Highest approval. In 1894, carved objects in the ancient Russian style were transferred to the temple. You can admire a magnificently crafted reliquary in the form of a stone old Russian tomb today, it is located in the deacon of the cathedral. Its entire surface is covered with embossed relief patterns, in accordance with the style of the 16th century.

Postnikov. A toiletry set consisting of two bottles, two containers for powder, a comb box and a mirror in a frame.
A toiletry set consisting of two bottles, two containers for powder, a comb box and a mirror in a frame.

In 1894, another agreement was concluded with Postnikov’s enterprise with the Imperial approval. For the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, erected on Shabolovka, the partnership created objects according to sketches and under the personal supervision of the architect Chichagov. 14 candlesticks were created from gilded bronze for church icons, two for altar icons, two chandeliers with 50 candles from silvered bronze.

In 1894-1896. Postnikov’s factory completed the outer western gates, chandeliers, candlesticks, and other works for the Kiev Vladimir Cathedral for a total of about 70,000 rubles. This temple is known for the most monumental work of Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov. The artist worked on it for over ten years, creating fifteen stunningly beautiful compositions and thirty isolated images on 4,000 m².

Goblet with gilded silver lid. Moscow, 1873
Goblet with gilded silver lid. Moscow, 1873

For churches, the factory made works both according to commissioned sketches, and according to its own, or for this talented architects and artists were involved. But Postnikov’s firm created monuments only according to ready-made projects. The partnership cast several monuments and bronze parts for them. Two works were created according to the concept and drawings of the outstanding Russian sculptor, architect and painter Vladimir Osipovich Shevrud.

The statue of the famous Russian commander and hero of the Russian-Turkish war Fyodor Fedorovich Radetsky was cast by the partnership for the monument ordered by the hero’s widow. In 1891, the finished statue by V.O.Shevrud’s model and the chain for the fence were delivered to Odessa. The monument was erected there.

Gilded silver and enamel tea and glass holder - cup holder. Moscow, 1888-1890
Gilded silver and enamel tea and glass holder – cup holder. Moscow, 1888-1890

In 1895, a celebration took place in Kazan in honor of the opening of the monument to Alexander II. The project was also led by Academician V.O. Sherwood, all bronze parts, including the grill, were produced by Postnikov’s factory.

The stigma of Mikhail Postnikov

The stigma of Mikhail Postnikov with the initials “MP” is found until the beginning of the 1860s. Since 1868, several variants of the hallmark have been used, which did not change until the closure of the factory: the initials “AP” in an oval or in a square, the initials “AP” depicted through a dot, enclosed in a square and “A. Postnikov” in a long rectangle.

Gallery “Lermontov” has some products of the enterprise of A. M. Postnikov and continues to look for new items for its customers.

Gilded silver tablespoons. Russia, Moscow, 1884
Gilded silver tablespoons. Russia, Moscow, 1884
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