Stack's Bowers Galleries (& Ponterio) > October 2022 Hong Kong AuctionAuction date: 3 October 2022
Lot number: 54583

Price realized: 600 USD   (Approx. 611 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


RUSSIA. Kyakhta. RI Gribushina & Co Tea Brick Money, ND (ca. 1918 or earlier). EXTREMELY FINE.
Weight: 1,054 gms. 239 mm X 184 mm X 19 mm. Obverse: "РИ И ГРИБУШИНА Н КН" in three lines within diamond indent; Reverse: "КЬЮКІАНСКІЙ" within shaped indent.

Unfortunately, we were unable to locate much in the way of information pertaining to the origins of this piece. When conducting our research, we were able to locate a prominent merchant family with the last name Gribushin who were involved in the tea and sugar trade. The founder of this famous merchant family, Mikhail Ivanovich Gribushin, began working at the age of 12 for the merchant Alexei Semenovich Gubkin. Three years later in 1847 at the age of 15 he was sent to the town of Kyakhta near the Mongolian border. There he eventually became manager of several tea plantations. Later in 1856 after years of hard work being well versed in the trade practices of the Chinese merchants and tea, he set out on his own. Based in Kyakhta he established a system to transport and purchase tea. He became one of the largest tea and sugar enterprises in Russia. After his death in 1889 his wife, Antonina Ivanovna Gribushina, took over the business along with their three sons Sergi Mikhailovich, Mikhail and Nikolai Mikhailovich. Eventually they changed the name of the company to "М. И. Грибушина Наследники" (M. I. Gribushina Heirs). In the book "ВѢСТНИКЪ ФИНАНСОВЪ, ПРОМЫШЛЕННОСТИ И ТОРГОВЛИ" (VESTNIK FINANCE, INDUSTRY AND TRADE) published in 1890 (using old Cyrillic) a passage on page 212 is most interesting and yet is still unclear, "КЬЮКІАНСКІЙ ЧАЙ ПО СВОЕЙ ДОРОГОЙ СТОИМОСТИ, НО, ВМѢСТѢ СЪ ТѢМЪ, И НЕСРАВНЕННО ДУЧШЕМУ КАЧЕСТВУ ВСЕГДА ОСТАНЕТСЯ ВЪ ИСКЛЮЧИТЕЛЬНОМЪ ПОЛОЖЕНІИ." (Kukian tea for its expensive cost, but at the same time, and incomparably better quality will always remain in an exceptional position.) The first word in this sentence is the same as used on the reverse of the present tea brick. From our understanding this appears to be an alternative spelling of the town name Kyakhta. Today the company is still around today and offers a fine selection of Chinese teas.

From the Kenneth Bressett Collection.

Estimate: $1000 - $1500