Room 16. Craft and Trade in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Room 16 presents industry and trade, key sectors crucial for economic growth.

The first section is dedicated to Russian industry that existed in form of craftwork and manufactures.

case 1
In case 1 there is a output of handicraft workshops. Traditional crafts based on time-proved technologies continued to develop, though many novelties, riding on growing demands, were cropping up. Thus, Russian potters started making slip Dutch tiles and tiling, commercialized the technology of «cemented» ceramics with earthenware imitating metal articles.

case 2
In case 2 there is a produce of the first Russian factories – Tula ironworks, the Armoury, Izmailovo glassworks. All of them provided for state needs. Numerous luxury items were made by the order of the tsar’s court and used in the court day-to-day existence. Among them there is a fun-goblet – you cannot drink wine from it without spilling some. Such goblet could be served to a latecomer.

case 3
The objects of case 3 are dedicated to the foreign trade of Russia. To the right are specimens of oriental import – mainly arms and luxury items. To the left are some European items. Prevailing among them are various «rarities»; crockery of fanciful shapes poses special interest. In the centre of the case is one of the very first European maps showing the Russian State. It was drawn by British traveller and merchant Anthony Jenkinson in 1552. In search of a land route to India the Englishman visited Russia, where he was received by Ivan the Terrible. As a result the State of Moscow signed a trade agreement with England. Tin and tin crockery became a major article of British export.

Foreign trade helped Russia to meet the demand for those things that were not produced or lacked at home. It especially concerned silver used by the Mint. Like many other countries, Russia would buy foreign silver coins for remaking them into Russian kopecks and «poltinas» (fifty-kopeck pieces). Exhibited on the podium is a hoard of Spanish silver coins (macuquinas) found in Moscow.

case 4
In the course of trade deals, foreign ones in particular, people got to know the surrounding world, exchanged information and discoveries with different nations being involved in the worldwide cultural process. Exhibited in case 4 are the so-called rarities or «wonders» as they used to say in Rus. Silver and gold utensils from Italy, Bohemia, Holland, Germany do not only point to the broad geography of Russian trade transactions, but also show how urban population was introduced to new materials, forms and objects. Many of the latter had already stricken deep root in Russian culture and everyday life in the 17th century. For example, such furniture items as a bench-chest, a chair, an armchair, a bedstead, a cabinet became widespread in Russia thanks to West-European countries. However the samples presented in the case were already made by Russian experts «in German style». Thus the «Europeanisation» that gathered momentum in the reign of Peter the Great had been going on since the times of the Moscow rule.

case 5
In case 5 are collected materials that have to do with the development of domestic trade. Presented here are views of Russian cities and large trade centres. All national territory was covered with a dense network of land and water trade routes.

In the centre of the case there is a portrait of Vologda merchant Gavrila Fetiev. He enjoyed a high rank of the Guest – a merchant with huge capital endowed with the right to duty free foreign trade and honorary responsibility to freely subsidise the tsar’s court in case of need. The Vologda residents buried Fotiev as a freeman at the main municipal cathedral and placed his portrait beside the headstone. This is the only portrait of a third-class representative painted in Russia in the 17th century.

Alongside of the case there is a notebook of another wealthy merchant – guest N.Koshkin. The whole archive of notebooks belonging to several generations of this merchant dynasty is extant. Among merely business entries the notebook also contains a Russian-Swedish phrasebook compiled by Koshkin personally.

Salt plant
The central part of the section is devoted to the unique equipment of a salt plant and salt-worker’s implements brought to the Museum from the Vologda region in the 1930s and exhibited for the first time at this exposition.

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