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The Saint Petersburg School of Medalists18 ноября 2019 года

The Saint Petersburg School of Medalists

One of the major problems the Saint Petersburg Mint faced was the problem of personnel.

In the 1730s – 1750s, the Russian artists were not ready yet, therefore foreign medalists worked at the mint. By the middle of the 18th century, the hierarchy of positions of the mint employees took shape. Medal artists occupied the top positions, they were followed by puncheon carving craftsmen and puncheon carving apprentices. Trainees occupied the bottom positions. Foreign medalists received much higher salaries than the Russian craftsmen.

The foreign craftsmen were supposed to train the Russians; however, they were in no hurry to train the Russians and explained that the Russians were “very stupid” and incapable of learning. A well-known craftsman Gottfried Haupt who trained a craftsman Fedor Medyntsev was an exception.

The work of the majority of foreign medalists left much to be desired too. The majority of those who came to Russia were unqualified in their country. Nevertheless, well-known talented medalists like Johann Karl von Hedlinger, Jacques-Antoine Dassier and others worked too.

By the middle of the 18th century, a national school of medalists had begun. Because the practice of being trained by foreign medal artists turned out to be ineffective, the system of professional and artistic education that gradually formed at the Saint Petersburg Mint became more efficient.

In 1750, by the efforts of Ivan Andreevich Schlatter, the President of Berg-Collegium, the Head Judge of the Coin Chancellery, a professional school for training specialists for the coin business was created. Schlatter became one of the first teachers and the author of the first schoolbook.

In 1748, a Scottish craftsman Benjamin Scott was employed in Russia. He was one of the few foreign craftsmen who treated future medalists training dutifully. Scott trained three apprentices who later became the leading Russian medalists of the second half of the 18th century. They were Ivan Kudryavtsev, Samoila Yudin and Timofey Ivanov.

The creative carreers of Yudin and Ivanov are quite similar. They were contemporaries, learned the medal art from Benjamin Scott and worked at the Saint Petersburg Mint till the end of the 18th century.

Their initials (“T.I” and “Ю”) first appeared on the products of the mint in 1757. Ivanov was the author of many portrait puncheons for coins and medals during the reign of Catherine II. He also made copies, because total infatuation with numismatics started at that time, and they mastered mass minting of old medals at the mint.

Samoila Yudin was mainly engaged in making medals. Yudin was engaged in the restoration of worn-out puncheons of the first half of the 18th century more than Ivanov.

In 1764, the Steel and Firm Stone Engraving Class was opened at the Academy of Arts. At first, there were classes four times a week from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The training was applicable – it included skills in stone carving and medal puncheon carving. Works by famous craftsmen were copied.

Since the end of the 1760s, the practice of concluding short-term agreements with foreign craftsmen was stopped. Now many arriving medalists often remained in Russia till the end of their lives.

Brothers Johann Georg and Georg Christian Wächter, Johann Kaspar Gottlieb Eger and Johann Balthazar Gass made a considerable contribution into the Russian medal art. The latter took part in working upon the “secret puncheons” – tools for minting Hollander ducats. He made a plot of puncheons of the reverse of medals. Gass contributed a lot to creating a historical series and individual medals.

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