How biz-tsar! Is silver ‘vodka vessel’ found in field that of Russian Tsar?

Markings reveal that the vessel was made in the workshops of the Grachev Brothers in Petersburg, who were the official suppliers of Tsar Alexander III. Aleksander Ostasz

A ‘priceless’ boat-shaped silver drinking vessel thought to belong to Russian Tsar Alexander III has been found in a field in Poland by archeologists searching for a WWII plane.

The 130-year-old vessel was discovered in a dried-up river bed in the town of Żydowce, close to the city of Szczecin in northwest Poland, where German and Red Army troops clashed in 1945.

Known as a kovsh the Russian jar was used for drinking mead or vodka and its boat-like shape was inspired a traditional ladle.Aleksander Ostasz

Known as a kovsh the Russian vessel was used for drinking mead or vodka and its boat-like shape was inspired by a traditional ladle.

In Tsarist Russia, luxurious silver kovshs were also produced as gifts from the Tsar and rewards for services to the monarch.

Below the name of the silversmiths is a marking of a woman’s head, the number 84 and the initials AP which museum officials think may point to the customs sign of imported silver, which was minted in a Warsaw test room in the years 1896-1908, during the Russian partition.Aleksander Ostasz

Aleksander Ostasz, director of the Polish Museum of Weapons in the city of Kołobrzeg which is carrying out the hunt, said: “According to all indications, the object was produced in the factory of the Grachev brothers in St. Petersburg, supplying products to the tsarist court.

“Perhaps it belonged to Tsar Alexander III. If this turns out to be true, then the find is priceless.”

Tsar Alexander III reigned from 13 March 1881 to 1 November 1894 imposed a blanket of Russification across partitioned Poland by forcing people to speak Russian and imposed the Orthodox church upon them.Public domain

The Grachev brothers’ company, the name of which is clearly engraved onto the vessel, has been supplying luxury silver products to royalty, including the British royal family, since 1866.

In 1892 they were named purveyor to the Russian Imperial Court and granted the ‘Imperial Warrant’ making them direct suppliers to Tsar Alexander III.

The museum in Kołobrzeg is now trying to find out how the vessel ended up in the ditch and who put it there.Aleksander Ostasz

The museum in Poland said that the silver content of the 31cm-long vessel is “typical of the Russian silversmiths.”

Ostasz added: “What’s more, the silversmith’s marking 84 with the woman's head and AP initials may point to the customs sign of imported silver, which was minted in a Warsaw test room in the years 1896-1908, during the Russian partition.

“Perhaps the vessel was later used for religious purposes.”

The vessel was discovered in a dried-up river bed in the town of Żydowce, close to the city of Szczecin in northwest Poland, where German and Red Army troops clashed in 1945.Aleksander Ostasz

They are now trying to find out how it ended up in a dried up riverbed in Poland.

Museum director Aleksander Ostasz said: “We want to know how the vessel found its way into the ditch and who lost it there.”