A silver heirloom that comes with a great story.Thank you for sending me an image of your Russian silver kovsh. A kovsh is a cup or ladle that is a ceremonial drinking vessel with a boat-shaped body and a single handle that dates back from before the 16th century. It was originally a wooden ladle that was used in celebratory ceremony and in the 16th century they were made from precious metals such as silver and gold and given as gifts from tsars. They became more adorned and ornate in subsequent centuries and would often be intricately decorated with fine enameling and even jewels.As the kovsh is a prized piece in Russian families, it is terrific that your grandmother escaped Russia during the Revolution in about 1914 with this family heirloom hidden in the hem of her skirt.In doing some research I was able to identify the silversmith of your piece. It was made in Saint Petersburg by Aleksandr Benedictovich Liubavin. He was a fine silversmith and the champleve enamel work in your kovsh is beautifully crafted. Champleve is the intricate process of using wire, typically of silver, to create patterns that would then be filled with different colored enamels.Your piece is truly special and as Russian silver continues to receive more attention on the marketplace. I would value your kovsh at $4,000.
This article appears in the December 2010 issue of New Hampshire Magazine