Artels were cooperative associations of craftsmen that existed in Imperial Russia and Soviet Union. These associations consisted of a small number of members specialised in a specific art and producing a limited number of unique high quality objects.
There are thirty-four known artels for silver, although we have little information about them and the list is incomplete: we have no information at all about the 10th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 24th, 27th and 30th artels. Each cooperative had its own hallmark, although the style of some of them is so consistent that their artworks can be easily recognised by their designs and colours.
Here is a little description of the most popular ones.
1st Silver Artel:
The first silver artel was founded in St. Petersburg in 1908 and was supported and promoted by the House of Fabergé. It specialised in silver gilt objects.
Active between 1908 and 1917 in St. Petersburg, it included almost thirty artisans and it produced artworks for Fabergé and for the Imperial family. It specialised in guilloche enamel objects, mainly card and cigarette cases, but also miniature Easter Eggs.
Among the most famous Artels of the Imperial period, it specialised in cloisonné, plique-à-jour and guilloche enamel tea spoons.
Active in Moscow between 1908 and 1917. It is one of the most famous for the high quality of its production and it supplied Fabergé and the Imperial court. The 11th Artel produced mostly cloisonné and guilloche enamel tea and coffee sets, sugar and tea/coffee spoons, kovshi and tea strainers in the traditional Russian style with Art Nouveau influences.
Its style is often very similar to the one of the 11th Artel. As the 11th Artel, also the 20th specialised in enamel tea and coffee sets and spoons, tea strainers and kovshi in the typical Russian style, often combined with Art Nouveau leaves and flowers motifs.