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Features of development of private collecting in Russia in XX-XX! century (attempt of the macrosociological analysis)

istorichesky sciences

Valery Vasilyevich Kasyanov

doctor of sociological and historical sciences, professor

Kuban State University

ph. (861) 290-13-35

Sergey Nikolaevich Shapovalov

graduate student of the Kuban State University

ph. (861) 290-13-35

Features of development of private collecting

in Russia in XX-XX1 of century (attempt of the macrosociological analysis)

Collecting as a special type of social activity it is known since the most ancient times. However most brightly the phenomenon of collecting began to be shown in the XIX century. First of all it is connected with growth of activity of such socio-economic group as the bourgeoisie and, especially, merchants. At the appointed time world famous collections Tretyakova, Shchukinykh, Soldatenkova, Ryabushinsky, Morozov, Bakhrushin and many others were made. The elite nature of collecting was feature of this period: collectors represented closed

social groups with a high birth and (or) economic situation where could enter only equal of Besides, meeting made only things which had high market value.

However in XX - the beginning of the 21st centuries in collecting there are significant changes which were caused by a variety of reasons. First, collecting in the XX-XXI century can be divided into several periods conditionally: the 1st period: till 1917, the 2nd period: 1917 - the end of the 50th, the 3rd period: the end of the 50th - the beginning of the 90th, the 4th period: the beginning of the 90th - the present. This division is caused by transformations which happened in social and economic, legal and political life of the country and essentially influenced collecting development.

Secondly, since the beginning of the 20th century the subject of emergence and dynamic development of available types of collecting - collecting of brands, banknotes, amateur numismatics, post cards, awards and medals, etc. is updated. Among the presented collections the thematic meetings assuming selection of various materials for certain subjects began to take the important place.

Thirdly, it is formed and the collecting market infrastructure including auctions, salons, antique shops and specialized editions begins to work constantly. Approach to a meeting and studying objects of collecting becomes more systematic, in detail and evidence-based, goes to a meeting of domestic antiquities and objects of art, archeological and ethnographic sites.

However the October revolution and the subsequent to it civil war essentially influenced further development of collecting. The big loss was caused to private collections in the 1920th

when they were partially plundered, nationalized and also were on sale, divided, taken out abroad and disappeared.

On the other hand, from the first days of existence of the new power, work on protection and maintaining art, historical and cultural values became one of the directions it to activity. The State Council on management of the museums and palaces in which there were various collections was created. Nationalization of private collections, art collections, theaters, galleries was carried out. As a result the property belonging former "exploiter to classes",

moved to possession of the state [1, page 389].

Also old attributes high moved to new to the owner

social status. In "hands" of the state these things symbolized settlement of "a new system" which made public property what belonged to the elite earlier. Concentration in private hands of old valuable things and trade not were welcomed by them. The last

speculation also was considered as it was punished. The state aspired

to stop it by the repressive measures taken in relation to collectors: withdrawals of private collections, round-ups of antiquarian businessmen, etc. [4, page 105]. The social groups and groups which replaced earlier elite classes of noblemen and merchants considered collecting "bourgeois occupation" and did not promote it.

The considerable loss to collecting was caused by the Great Patriotic War. As a result of military operations many collections were destroyed, lost, plundered by invaders. A part of exhibits was taken out abroad and not returned still. The fate of the Amber room [2, page 24] became the most striking example of this process.

In post-war time the private collecting was not encouraged, on the contrary - collectors constantly were under close attention of militia and KGB which studied the income of these persons. Societies of collectors began to be created only in the 1970th when All-Union society of philatelists with various sections was created: collectors bibliophiles, numismatists, filofonist, etc. From now on provided such large halls as the Museum of ethnography, the Arena in Leningrad for exhibitions of private collections or Pushkin Museums and Andrei Rublev in Moscow [3, page 3].

Personal collections under the will of owners were quite often transferred to the state. The main condition of the will, as a rule, was desire to acquaint general public with a meeting. The museum of V.A. Tropinin and artists of his time in Moscow was born from a private collection of F.E. Vishnevsky. From large foreign collections of the Russian culture it should be noted archive of the baron E. Falts-Feyna and the art collection of princes Lobanov-Rostovsky exhibited at Moscow and Leningrad in 1988 [3, page 3].

During the post-war period more and more people begin to be fond of collecting of antiques. According to L.L. Shpakovskaya, it was connected with the fashion which came with the VI World festival of the youth and students in 1957 based on the principles of progress, aspiration to new life and fight against narrow-mindedness. It turned out that old things - ware, furniture and other objects more are not simply not fashionable, but are even in certain cases reprehensible as something alien to the Soviet system and life [4, page 103]. In the late fifties construction of modern panel houses, unknown until then on scales, begins. Old things leave the sphere of daily life. At the same time

the powerful offer in the antiquarian market is created. Considerable demand for expensive, valuable things was provided by foreign collectors who shopped at the prices exceeding the prices within the country. In general, this period can be characterized as a new round in development of collection activity.

The collapse of the USSR and sovereignization of Russia begin process of privatization of state ownership. Collectors and antiquarian dealers have an opportunity to open own shops, to work freely and openly [4, page 105]. There is first institutional formation of earlier almost completely illegal market. There is a boom of antiquarian trade that is connected with appearance of the new buyers and collectors within the country focused on expensive and large purchases - a new group of wealthy people for whom drawing up collections means first of all external attributes, underlining of own high social status, but not satisfaction of spiritual needs.

The macrosociological analysis of the phenomenon allows to draw a conclusion that at the present stage it is possible to note both variety and width of objects of collecting, and variability of sources of replenishment of collections: the competition to traditional antique shops and meetings of collectors is made by online auctions, sales according to catalogs, orders by phone and also the firms specializing in sale of services in drawing up collections and to consultation. First of all it is connected with development of mass media and communications and also their availability.

All this, on the one hand, facilitates search of necessary collection objects. With another, the sharp slowdown of interest in process of collecting among all population groups explained with the same availability of information on the necessary objects (earlier as motivation to collecting the inaccessibility of many things in many respects acted that generated aspiration to possession of this subject) and also the consumer relation to things when the obsolescence much more advances material is observed.

Collecting at a boundary of the XX-XXI centuries becomes not only an object of fashion, but also and "the entrance ticket" in certain social groups and groups, way of the presentation of. The motivation to collecting is observed also in connection with a possibility of favorable capital investment that was not observed during the previous periods. All these processes led to transformation of both the concept of collecting, and the activity connected with collecting of valuable objects and also the typical lines inherent earlier in collectors. Macrosociological estimates and characteristics of process of transformation of collecting as social phenomenon of the present are rather conditional, predvaritelna also need scientific processing and systematization.


1. History of Russia/Ampere-second. Orlov, V.A. Georgiev. N.G. Georgieva, T.A. Sivokhina. M, 2002. 514 pages
2. A.A. Kedrinsky. Restoration of monuments of architecture of Leningrad / A.A. Kedrinsky, M.G. Kolotov. L., 1983. 286 pages
3. P.A. Klubkov. Collecting//Russian Humanitarian

Encyclopedic Dictionary. 2002. 3 page (Russian). URL: [on May 30, 2008].

4. L.L. Shpakovskaya. Sociological approach to antiques//Sotsis. 2000. No. 2. Page 101-107.
Jeffrey Little
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