Desk Set
Made of Malachite
A gift to Joseph Stalin on the 30th anniversary of the Komsomol by
members of the Komsomol and the youth of the Sverdlovsk region,1948
Desk set consisting of 14 items, made of dark green Ural malachite
with fancy rich pattern.
This delicate set, made of precious ornamental stone,
looks as if it was really crafted by the famous Danila
the Craftsman from the popular tales about the Malachite
jewellery box by Ural writer and collector of fairy tales
Pavel Bazhov. Such a marvelous gift is not only an item
of necessity for any office table, but really what a
decoration for the office of the head of the state should be!
Malachite, a Siberian gem, is the stone found
in the Urals. Vast malachite deposits were
discovered in the 17th century there and very
soon the fame of unique Ural craftsmen spread
over Europe where malachite got the name of the
“Russian stone.” Ural malachite decorated numerous
mineral offices, as were called stone collections
which were en vogue among Western nobility
at the time.
The malachite block
Among the bright-green stone items making up
the desk set is a stand with two ink pots,
a paper-weight, a pen and a pencil holder,
a pen and a pen wiper (ball-pens appeared in the
Soviet Union only at the end of the 1960s).
What makes the gift so specific is the exclusive
attention of Komsomol (youth division of the
Communist Party) members to the personal habits
of the Soviet leader: the set included an ashtray,
a match box and a tobacco box.
The table set also includes two bookends
with low reliefs of Lenin and Stalin himself,
as well as two delicate malachite vases. This
set was made at factory №10 in the Sverdlovsk
region and was presented on behalf of the youth.
The idea of the artwork belongs to a certain
Cheremiskin whose design was carved in stone by
craftsman Oberyukhtin, and it is his name that
is carefully inscribed on the metallic plate.
“Work lives long. Man dies, but his work remains”
(from the “Chugunnaya Babushka (Cast-Iron Granny)” tale by Pavel Bazhov)
The best of the stones made their way the
Winter Palace to the collection of Catherine
the Great, Russian Empress in 1726-1796.
In the 19th century large boulders of malachite
were discovered, which made it possible to
use it on a larger scale. Malachite was used
to cover altar columns in St. Petersburg’s
St Isaac’s Cathedral and to finish the
Malachite and George Halls of the Winter Palace.
Tragically enough, though Ural deposits are
still widely known around the world, Ural
malachite mining has ceased due to their
depletion, which also led to the loss of the
processing technique.
Saint Isaac's Cathedral's interior, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Collection custodian:
“At first sight it seems as if the gift to Stalin was made
out of a whole block of malachite. But this is no more
than an illusion, because the table set is made using the
‘Russian mosaic’ technique: malachite stripes are glued to
the foundation made of low-cost hard stone. The stripes
The stripes are very carefully selected so that they perfectly
each other in colour and pattern and the piece looks as if it
was made out of a whole block. This technique, devised back
in the second half of 17th century, was used by Russian
craftsmen to veneer tables, cups, vases and even columns.”
Solid piece