Khlebnikov factory The history
The founder of the dynasty, Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov was born in 1819 in Moscow, in the burgher family in Luzhniki region. Practically nothing was known about his works until he established a private firm. It might be possible that the son followed up the father’s business. Piotr Khlebnikov had been enlisted in merchantry since 1832 and was the owner of the trading and manufacturing jewellery establishment. Very little is known about the history of the firm.
According to some researchers, Ivan Petrovich was working in St. Petersburg until 1867. He founded the manufacturing firm in Moscow in 1870. He wrote, “being engaged in the silver and gold articles trading for about forty years, I opened a manufactory of my own…» It is possible that in the 1830s, I. Khlebnikov already owned a shop, but he opened the factory later, at the turn of 60-70s of the 19th century. One hundred people were working at the factory and the turnover of production was 56 thousand rubles in 1871. Since that time, the firm began to grow. Several shops were opened: a store at the Kuznetski Bridge in the house of Solodovnikov, a store on Ilijnskaya street in the house of Novgorod courtyard in the silver row. New shops were opened in other cities: in Saint Petersburg in Nevsky Prospekt and in the main line of the Nizhny Novgorod fair.
The factory was well equipped with the latest technique for all types of works, produced articles in all major styles of the second half of the 19th – early 20th century. The Russian and Modern styles were very popular, as well as various historic styles: the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Rococo, and Neo-classicism styles.
In addition to the main factory with special space for painting and sculpture, about 300 workers were employed; there were special workshops for stone cutting, metal processing, etc. Khlebnikov matured as a jeweller in the period of his close collaboration with the Petersburg firm Gasse.
He regularly participated in various exhibitions. For the first time Ivan Petrovich exhibited his works together with P. A. Ovchinnikov at the Moscow Polytechnic exhibition in 1872. His works were awarded with two large gold medals.
The growing fame helped the factory to receive the honorary orders. Together with the firm “Nicols and Plinke”, as well as with jewelers Pavel Akimovich Ovchinnikov (1830 – 1888) and Ivan Ekimovich Morozov (1825-1885) he was involved in the renovation of the Palace silver dinner sets.
Khlebnikov factory produced for Anichkov and Gatchina palaces 160 new items of The Golden Set made by artists G. F. Eckart and J. G. Blom in 1759-1784; The missing items were made for other sets of these same palaces; The Dessert set with the monogram of Catherine II, donated by Prince G. Potemkin was renovated; The Orlovsky dinner set was manufactured in 1772-1776; The Fourth Camping set was made. It was submitted to the Imperial Palace in 1797 as a gift from merchant Glazunov; Coffee pots, teapots, sugar bowls, milk jugs, teaspoons and spoons for salt, quadrangular flat serving dishes for several dinner sets from the Winter Palace on the old models were manufactured according to the old models.
From the first years of its existence, the factory gained the right to be ranked as the Supplier of the Imperial family due to high quality of the produced silver and gold articles. Khlebnikov supplied with his production Grand Dukes since 1869. He was titled the supplier of the court of the Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich in 1869, continually had been receiving orders for the wardrobe of Her Majesty the Empress Maria Alexandrovna since 1873. This fact was an honorary distinction and evidenced about his good reputation among the customers. Khlebnikov’s jewellery came to fashion. Having achieved recognition, Ivan dreamed of the most honorable title “The Supplier of the Imperial Court”. He wrote in 1875, “the right to be called the Supplier of the court… will serve me and my heirs, the successors of my business – the most invaluable encouragement to continue honest labor and precious estimation of my firm”. Finally, in 1879 he received the long-awaited title of ‘The Supplier of Russian Imperial Court” and the right to depict the national armorial bearings on the factory sign.
The firm of Khlebnikov was awarded with the title of “The Supplier of the Danish, Dutch and Serbian Kings’ Courts”, as well as “THe SUpplier of Montenegrian Prince Court”. Ivan Petrovich died in 1881, at the age of 62, was buried in the Spaso-Andronikov monastery. His sons inherited his business: Michael, Alex, Nicholas and Vladimir. 300 artisans were working at their factory “Partnership I. P. Khlebnikov, Sons & Co” in 1882. There were the goldsmiths, coppersmiths, chasers, haberdashers, enamellers and filigree artists. They represented all sectors of goldsmith. There were specialized workshops, the number of workers in which amounted 1,000 people. The fame of the factory and its authority after the death of Ivan Petrovich did not diminished. Together with the best Moscow jewellers-manufacturers, the firm participated in the decoration of the temple of Christ the Savior. The Khlebnikov’s family created nearly 50 religious articles according to their sketches and drawings: ostensories, chalices, Holy-water bowls, and jugs for Holy water, incense burners, serving dishes, and icon-lamps.
Nevertheless, the mass-market production mainly provided the financial wellbeing of the company. Large quantity of medium-priced silver objects, dinnerware, cutlery and jewellery was produced. A trading-industrial enterprise under the name Partnership for production of silver, gold and jewellery “I. P. Khlebnikov, Sons and Co” was established on the basis of the company. It expanded and assimilated well-known jewellery shops and factories owned by Sazikov, both in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The catalog of M. M. Postnikov “Gold and Silver Manufacturing of the 15th-20th centuries” narrated that by 1897 the factory of brothers Khlebnikov possessed two steam engines and one steam boiler. They manufactured production for the total amount of 172 372 rubles.
The achievements of the firm “I. P. Khlebnikov, Sons & Co” were distinguished in the development of Russian jewellery”. Ivan Petrovich was awarded with a bronze medal on the Anninskaya ribbon and five Golden medals. His elder son, Mikhail Ivanovich was awarded with the order of Stanislaus of the third degree in 1881 and was ranked as an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg in 1883. Other brothers were ranked as honorable citizens in 1887.
The factory was closed on June 24, 1917. Under the will of one of the Khlebnikov’s brothers, the shares of the company were donated to Moscow County Zemstvo. The main enterprise was reorganized in the Moscow platinum factory in 1918. It mainly produced all kinds of items for the electrochemical industry and research laboratories, and in addition, a small amount of silver jewellery, mainly utensils, cutlery and glass holders, which were marked with the seal “platinum-device”.
The memory remained from the firm P. Khlebnikov, Sons and Co”, jewellery treasures and the facade of the factory building (it was built on the crossing of Ryumin lane and Upper Radischevskaya street).