Archive of the artist from the garbage
Usachev, A.I., art. Woodcut. Photo © 12auction.com
In 2021, engravings and sketches by the famous Soviet engraver Usachev appeared at one of the Russian auctions. The man who brought several folders with drawings told the story that he was familiar with the artist and several times persuaded him to sell the archive, which occupied the whole closet, but the artist refused each time, referring to the fact that the archive was very important to him. And when he died, descendants who did not understand art or some other people threw the entire archive into the trash. A connoisseur of Usachev’s work miraculously managed to save only a few folders with engravings and sketches of the artist. Their total value at the auction amounted to more than one and a half million rubles. And this despite the fact that the initial price of some works was a thousand rubles or five thousand. Many works went for 30,000 rubles or 65,000 rubles.
Old book from the attic
Pushkin, A.S. Poems not published in Russia. Photo © 12auction.com
In the 21st century, an old book from 1908 was found in a library in one of the families in Moscow, which could have some value. The owners kept it for a long time and only recently decided to take it to the appraiser. It turned out that the family owns a real rarity – the book by Alexander Pushkin “Poems not published in Russia” by Maslov’s publishing house. As it turned out, the book contained excerpts from the poem “Gavriliad”, the fairy tale “Tsar Nikita” and a number of little-known poems and epigrams of the poet. In tsarist times, the book was considered harmful to the people, the circulation was arrested right in the printing house and almost completely destroyed. In total, five more or less surviving books are known in Russia. Despite the fact that the book had numerous shortcomings – it fell apart into separate notebooks, had numerous creases and tears, it was sold at auction for 650,000 rubles.
Mug from the cottage
A mug with a portrait of G. Zinoviev and the inscription “Long live the Communist International!”. Porcelain. GFZ-LFZ. 1923. Photo © severny-auction.rf
In February 2021, a mug from the 1920s was sold at an auction in St. Petersburg for 4,300,000 rubles. This mug with a worn pattern and numerous chips was found by the owner at an old dacha in the northern part of the city. In the process of leveling the site in a place that used to be under the porch of a demolished dacha, a “bookmark” was found with various household items, among which was the treasured mug. The value of the old tea mug was due to the propaganda slogan “Long live the Communist International!” and a portrait of the revolutionary Zinoviev, who was repressed. After his arrest, all his images were banned, most of them were destroyed. So the mug became a rarity, and the former owner of the dacha buried it out of harm’s way. Possession of a portrait of Zinoviev could be considered a “sympathizer” and get a term.
Another book from the flea market
Extremely rare first edition of “Alice in Wonderland” translated by V.V. Nabokov (pseudo-V. Sirin). Photo © 12auction.com
L. Carroll’s book “Anya in Wonderland”, published in Russian in Berlin in 1923, was found by a connoisseur at one of the flea markets in Moscow and bought for a ridiculous price. Later it turned out that the buyer was nothing more than a translation of the famous writer Vladimir Nabokov, who in 1921 came to Berlin with his emigrated parents and lived there with various literary earnings, among which was the work of a translator. For the translation of Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice in Wonderland” the writer was paid about five dollars. At the same time, Nabokov completely Russified Carroll’s novel, gave the characters Russian names and saturated their speech with various Russian phrases and metaphors, which made the book very expressive. He was then only 24 years old. The book was later sold for 1,600,000 rubles.
Relic from an old box
The “shackle” ring of the leader of the uprising on the Senate Square, Prince. E.P. Obolensky. Photo © 12auction.com
For 6,000,000 rubles, a ring was sold, which was kept in the family of a Siberian and passed down from generation to generation. The owners knew that the ring was made of shackled iron; the Decembrists were the first to make such rings. And so that the iron does not spoil the delicate lordly skin, inserts of precious metals were made inside. However, later there were many such “shackled” rings, and among them there were not just rings forged in hard labor from shackled iron, but also outright fakes.
On examination, it turned out that the ring belonged to one of the most active participants in the rebellion – Yevgeny Obolensky. Later, the Decembrist gave it to his sister. The ring was passed from hand to hand until it was in the family of the grandson of the famous gunsmith Tokarev. The value of the ring was given by its history: the family has preserved photographs and letters indicating that the ring is precisely the Decembrist Obolensky. If there were no documents, it would cost almost nothing.
Not everything is valued by money
Pictures of the famous Soviet artist Svetlana Kovalskaya were found in a garbage dump in Dolgoprudny. Photo © 360tv.ru / Elena Starikovskaya
But not always the values ”from the dump” are sold at auctions “for millions”. Sometimes people just save art. So, for example, it happened with the paintings of the famous artist Svetlana Kovalskaya – more than 40 paintings by her brush were found in the garbage heap and saved by caring people. The saviors did not sell them – they simply handed them out to good hands.
And in 2019, in the center of Tashkent, in the basement of one of the old mansions, the treasure of Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich Romanov was found. Obviously, during the revolution, the valuables were hidden in the basement, and then the entrance was filled up and the room was forgotten for a hundred years. The treasure, which contained the rarest books, gold coins and precious metal ingots, was originally estimated at $1,500,000, although foreigners later gave up to $650,000 for just one book covered with gold leaf. Some intruders even tried to take valuables out of the country, but were detained at the border, and the treasure ended up in the State Museum of the History of Uzbekistan.
Photo © Shutterstock
Why do ignorant people who do not appreciate antique or old Soviet things never get rich on things from the garbage heap?
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