A gift to Josef Stalin on his 70th birthday from the athletes
of the Moscow region “Spartak” sports society, 1949
A bone cup featuring a lid decorated with
the “Ready for Labour and Defence of the USSR”
(RLD) sign. Laconic and dignified in its shape,
this cup embodies the love of Soviet people
The RLD sign symbolizes “the healthiest
society in the world.” In Soviet times
this sign was endowed upon everyone
who showed agility, speed and stamina,
showing the conformity of one's physical
shape to the standards set by the state.
A physically strong person, reaching the finish line
n front of the red star and ceremonial Soviet standard, inside
a gear-wheel shape – such was the look of the RLD batch after
WWII. The author of the cup put laurels around it.
The inlay carving of oak leaves on the lid and stalk
of the cup gave it a special expressive look,which
translates into the Olympic motto: “Faster,higher,stronger!”
In this cup, the artist seems to foresee the future Olympic
triumphs of the Soviet sportsmen. It was out of the
government-supported and stated-sponsored sports movement
that the victorious Soviet sportsmen grew during the second
half of the 20th century.
“He has the RLD sign on his chest.
Nothing else is known about him…
There are many such signs in the capital
Everyone being ready to work and defence.”
These lines from the popular Soviet poet Samuil Marshak's verse “Unknown Hero,”
were known to everyone.
The USSR had its Olympic debut in 1952 in Helsinki Olympics.
Soviet sportsmen started a new page in the national history of sports:
22 Gold, 30 Silver and 19 Bronze medals – such were
the result of Olympic debutants. The Soviet Union secured second place
after USA in overall medal standings.
The15th international Olympic games in Helsinki, 1952. Soviet gymnasts
who secured first place in team competitions. Finland
The gift to the Soviet leader was crafted in the settlement of Lomonosovo in the
northern Archangelsk region by the well-known master A. E. Shtang.
Lomonosovo is one of the villages around the town of Kholmogory, a centre of
famous slotted carving, so meticulous and delicate that the bone looks like fine
lace. But the author of this cup, extremely skilful in the technique, refrained from excessive filigree. This work required ceremonial restraint: frills and thin ornaments would have been out of order here.