Tag Archives: 1MPZ

Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of the Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays

FAKE Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays

After finding of one of these “Made in Greece” stamped hedgehog ashtrays with a photo of a box, I figured it was time to do an updated post. Let’s start with the basics. This hedgehog ashtray is made of a white metal, probably a zinc based metal alloy with an applied antiqued patina in a bronze or copper color. It is not aluminum as previously thought as it is too heavy. This type of production would get you a much more detailed casting and richer color for much cheaper than casting with actual brass/bronze. You can tell it is a white metal casting because wherever the copper color is rubbing off, you see the silver colored metal underneath. They have textured fur and ears as well as eyes that stick out from the surface of the sets.

Greek Hedgehog Ashtray BabyGreek Hedgehog Ashtray Baby - Base

The baby has elongated legs looks almost exactly like the Russian sets (but with no incised ears). The casting seams from the mold are seen clearly running down the front of the face of the largest set and the bases all have holes where the sprues were attached just like the base of the baby.

Made in Greece Mark - Hedgehog Ashtrays
Greek Fallow Deer Logo - N A 1947As far as markings go, all sets are stamped on the inside bowls with “Made in Greece” and a Deer (possibly Ibex/goat) logo. The two letters inside the logo read “N” & “A”, possibly the initials of casting firm? The date inside the logo reads “1947”. We know Walter Bosse did not develop his hedgehog designs until somewhere around 1952. The date in the logo may just be referencing the founding of the company and not the date of manufacture. If you look at other items cast by this company the same date shows up, hence it’s just a part of their logo.

Ancient Greek Amphora from Rhodes with fallow deer Bronze Rhodian Fallow Deer Statue Rhodes Souvenir Deer Ashtray
It would make the most sense for the animal in the logo to be a Fallow deer, know locally as Platoni or Dama dama, and were considered the symbol of Rhodes in Greece. Two bronze statues of the deer face the entrance to the old harbor (see the images above), it was a symbol used throughout ancient times (as seen on the Amphora), and through modern times (as on this souvenir enamel ashtray). As the 50s and 60s came modernism grew and artistic depictions of the deer got more stylized. I believe this Fallow Deer is what is depicted in the logo.

Greek Hedgehog Ashtray BoxGreek Hedgehog Ashtray Deer Logo
From the box, we can gather a bit more information than just the markings inside the hedgehogs. I traced the logo so we can see a bit more of the detail. The box reads “Athens, Greece”, possibly where it was manufactured. The telephone number on the box reads “TEL: 2815747”, possibly an old style of telephone number that turned up no results.
I imagine this was the company manufacturing the hedgehogs, as well as manufacturing and casting other souvenirs for sale at shops in Greece.

Greek God Pan Ashtray - Made in GreeceRound Parthenon Ashtray - Greek God Pan Ashtray - Made in Greece
A quick Google search for metal ashtrays made in Greece started turning up other items from the same company with the same logo in the back. Here are a few examples of other items cast by this company above, including souvenir ashtrays of the Greek God Pan with goat horns on his head, and one of the Parthenon. The logo is a little better so you can get a lot more detail. These also have model numbers on them: curious enough they both are marked #29825, possibly for the shape of the ashtray instead of the design?

Greek vs Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays - Difference Operation
Greek vs Russian Hedgehog Baby - Difference Operation
Finally, I actually found the two Russian and Greek sets so similar I decide to try a “Difference” operation in Photoshop and was kind of astonished. I didn’t even try to take the photos in the exact same position and they almost match up perfectly, especially the overall shape of the sets. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at in the photo above, images of the two sets (1 Russian and 1 Greek) were overlayed on top of each other. The black of the image shows where the two sets are not overlapping. The lighter parts of the image show where the sets overlap (the Greek in the brown color and the Russian in the bluish color). As you can see, I also ran the same operation on the two baby hedgehogs and found similar results. I think these were cast directly from a Russian set, making a mold out of a Russian hedghehog, using it as their master. You would lose a lot of the original detail, which is exactly what happened here with the Greek sets. We know Russia was making these for export to Greece because 1МПЗ mentioned it on their site.

So that’s it! These were definitely not made by Walter Bosse, but by a company with the initials “N A” and founded in 1947, possibly in Athens, Greece. They were direct copies of the Russian sets and are made of a zinc alloy with copper or bronze plating. The same company made other souvenir Grecian ashtrays. I hope all this ended up being helpful!

 

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Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of 1МПЗ Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays

FAKE Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays

It has taken me almost 8 years of research until I finally made a break in this case 3 days ago. I have focused mainly on authenticating the Walter Bosse hedgehog ashtrays, but I thought I should turn my attention to researching the origins of this forgery. It all started with someone mentioned that they thought the set of hedgehogs were made by famous Russian casting firm “Kaslinsky foundry” (spelled Каслинском / Каслинское / or Касли (Kasli) литейном заводе). I began digging into their history to see what I could find. Here’s a snippet from their Wikipedia page:

“Founded in 1747 in Kasli, Chelyabinsk region. They made high quality art casting out of cast iron with sand casting method. Kaslino workers used German castings brought by Grigory Zotov from Berlin as their first samples. The cast iron alloy, has lightness and delicacy. And at the same time, the casting objects have a feeling of steel hardness and durability. In 1934 a special shop for artistic and architectural casting (completely renovated, expanded and modernized at the end of the 1980s) was established, which was tasked with updating the themes of artistic products in order to reflect modernity.”

Sounds promising? After a bit of digging but I ended up finding that although the dates worked out and they did do artistic-casting, they really only worked in a very specific type of cast iron. I was actually able to find a Russian set that looks like it was made with the same Kasli-metal but it is quite crude. You can see that it is solid black and has a sandy cast iron texture with a lot less detail. There is also definitely no silver polishing like all the other Russian sets (this is not done with cast iron). See photo below (courtesy of Kaslinskoe-Litye.com).
Kaslinsky Foundry Hedgehog Ashtrays
Considering the fantastic detail Kaslinsky they were getting out of their art casting I kind of still doubt this one was even manufactured by them (but cast iron is notoriously difficult to work with). Also, as a fine art casting foundry they were not set up to pump out thousands of these sets that now flood the market (and did back then as well). There was also no record of them using anything similar to the logo on the bottom of all the hedgehogs. It felt like a bit of a dead end.

1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Logo

So I decided to turn my attention to deciphering the Russian logo instead. I found a few other people mention that the logo reads МПЗ (which means MPZ), but I made a break in the case after my type designer partner suggested that there might be an implied “1” in front of the МПЗ. That brought us to 1МПЗ, or the 1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant, which has been around as far back at 1914 manufacturing parts for the aircraft industry and located in the Dorogomilovo district. It was initially called in 1917 Aviapribor (Авиаприбор), in 1935 it was named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze (Серго Орджоникидзе), in 1942 it becomes 1МПЗ (1MPZ), and in 1981 after Vasily Alexandrovich Kazakov (Василия Александровича Казакова). Their website can be found at https://www.1mpz.ru/ and a translation with google at https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&u=https://www.1mpz.ru/. The history/about page on the website states:

“By 1940, the plant was the main enterprise for the production of aviation instruments, producing 80-100% of aviation devices in Russia. The plant glorified its name not only by rapid development and implementation of the most complex aviation control systems, but also by the production of consumer goods in 1945. Beds with a metal mesh, pharmaceutical scales, children’s toys, vacuum cleaners, high strength magnets, etc. were produced. In 1963, a specialized workshop for consumer goods was created from scattered areas. In the late 80s it grew into an Industrial Complex for the production of consumer goods for radio, household and souvenir products. Consumer goods produced by our plant were exported to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Syria, Germany, France and other countries. In 1988, in order to improve quality of manufactured products and increase the volume of production of civilian products and profit, a specialized design bureau was created at the plant, engaged in the development and introduction of serial production of products for export all over the world, with high serialability as the main focus.”

Now that’s getting a lot closer! All the boxes the the Russian hedgehogs come in say “пепельница ёж сувенир” or “Souvenir Hedgehog Ashtrays” and the website mentions a history of specifically manufacturing souvenirs. Also Bosse mentioned in an essay he wrote that the Russian hedgehogs had to be manufactured in large quantities to make them profitable:

“The hedgehogs made in Russia seem to run in particularly large batches, because zinc injection molding requires expensive molds that are only really worthwhile for very large productions.”

So I guess these are now made out of zinc! I then turned my attention to finding as many boxes as I could to see if there was any detail I could decipher. Here are all the boxes and the logos on the bottoms of the hedgehogs:
1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box
Orange MPZ Russian Hedgehog Ashtray BoxEarly 1MPZ Hedgehog Ashtray Marking  Later 1MPZ Hedgehog Ashtray Marking

The boxes all had similar specific manufacturing data on the sides and one set even had a manufacturing date. Two of the boxes even had old price stickers from the retail stores they were sold in. One sticker reads: “Beriozka” (Берёзка, “little birch tree” ) and the other “Березка”. Beriozka is a state run retail store that sold luxury items in exchange for foreign currency. Opened 1969, closed 1990s. Networks of Beriozka stores were called “birches”. Both had a cost of 1.80 (1 Ruble and 80 Kopecks). Here is what the boxes read:

ту 1-508-0005-80 / ту 1-508-0005-77         TU1-508-0005-80 / TU1-508-0005-77
Цена з PУБ.   Aрт. c-мг-434                           Price Per Rubles   Article S-MG-434
Дата выпуска   OTK штамп                           Date of Issue   Quality control department Stamp
Нояжь   1985 K-86                                            November 1985   K-861MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box

So now all I had to do was find this logo in use on some of the other products manufactured by 1МПЗ (1MPZ). Luckily, that’s exactly what I was able to find! Items include a zinc souvenir medal from the war of 1812, a magnetic cabinet latch (magnets manufacturing was mentioned on their site), an enamel medal from the 1980 Russian Olympic Games, a metal lighter, and a zinc souvenir bottle stopper from the war of 1812. Here’s a collection of the images below:

1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Zinc Medal
1MPZ Magnetic Cabinet Latch

1MPZ 1980 Russian Olympic Medal with Original Packaging
1MPZ Red Cap Metal Lighter
1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Zinc Bottle Stopper

So all these items seem to use the same logo. The bottle stopper and the medal both use the same type of zinc metal that the hedgehog ashtrays use (blackened with silver polishing). If and if you look at 2 packages that have information on the backs, they all use the same kind of model numbering system and are from the 1980s. For example, the Olympic medal reads:

Сувенир – вымпел              Souvenir – pennant
ОЛИМПИАДА 1980          OLYMPIAD 1980
АРТ. С-МГ-34Д-78             Article S-MG-34D-78
ЦЕНА 1 ру6. 90 коп.          PRICE 1 ruble 90 kopecks
Клеймо ОТК                         OTK Stamp (Quality Control Department)
Дата вылука                         Manufacture date
январь 1980 K-80               January 1980 K-80

1MPZ Olympic Medal Packaging

This is the exact same format used on the stickers on the sides of the hedgehogs. The last clue in the case came at the end of the packaging for the 1812 souvenir pennant. The bottom of the package has the 1МПЗ (1MPZ) logo as well as reading “Первый московский приборостроительный 3-д / 121170, Москва, Г-170” or “The First Moscow Instrument-Making 3-d / 121170, Moscow, G-170″ which is located within the Dorogomilovo district where 1МПЗ (1MPZ) still stands today.
1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Medal Packaging
Last but not least, I want to turn my attention to the winged sets previously attributed to Aeroflot. I have not seen them using the 1МПЗ (1MPZ) branding anywhere but they are definitely made by the same manufacturer. Below are two models with the winged logos: one earlier (from the 70s) and one later (from the 80s). The earlier one is bare light silver metal and the later one has dark applied patina and polishing. Other than that they look exactly the same and are made with the same metal and same casting techniques at the 1МПЗ (1MPZ). FAKE Russain Hedgehog AshtraysAeroflot Logo
FAKE Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtrays

Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtray Logo

So now let’s turn our attention to the winged logo and the possible Aeroflot attribution. The fact that 1МПЗ (1MPZ) was making aviation equipment for Aeroflot probably led to the attribution of this being an “Aeroflot” branded set. While it is possible that these hedgehogs were purchased and sold by Aeroflot when the plant expanded to making housewares and souvenirs, I don’t think they are Aeroflot branded. Here is a photo of the winged logo and a photo of all the Aeroflot logos ever used by the airline for comparison:
Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtray Logo
Aeroflot Historical Logos
Upon closer examination of the two logos side by side shows significant differences between the two. The winged hedgehog logo only ever has two wings with 3 feathers surrounding a central design of interconnected circles with a dot in the center. The Aeroflot logo always involves a hammer and sickle in the center with two wings on either side. The wings always have 4 or more feathers with the two handles of the hammer and sickle extending below the circle.

Although it could be argued that the winged logo was a simplified Aeroflot design for use at a small size, we know the casting from the hedgehogs could capture detail well. Also, the Aeroflot logo was used in small applications, as seen on this small souvenir enamel pin. So with all that, I believe the winged logo is actually the earlier logo of “Авиаприбор” or “Aviapribor” before the name was changed to 1МПЗ (1MPZ) in the 1980s. There is no record of the “Aviapribor” logo, but similar logos show up on aviation equipment from the period (2 wings around a central design).

Now on to the box. The only box I have ever seen in existence that is associated with winged set is this orange and blue box with an illustration of a hedgehog on the front and reads “Hedgehog Ashtray” and “Souvenir” in a logo up in the right-hand corner. Here are photos:

Russian Aeroflot Hedgehog Ashtray Box
Russian Aeroflot Hedgehog Ashtray Box Stacked

If you look closely at the side of this box, it also seems to have some dating info on the side as well. This reads:

АРТИКУЛ С-1                               ARTICLE C-1
ЦЕНА 3 руб.                                 PRICE 3 Rubles
ту 1-508-0005-77                         tu 1-508-0005-77
Дата выпука И – 78                    Date of issue  June/July – 78
Штамп ОТК                                 OTK Stamp (Quality Control Department)
ТИЗ. зак № 10751-15000         TIZ. order № 10751-15000

This is the exact same numbering system used by 1МПЗ in the above hedgehog boxes and other product packaging so I believe it is made by the same company. The date of this set is earlier, made around June/July of 1978. Interestingly this set originally cost more money, 3 Rubles, even though it was manufactured earlier. It is possible that the increased price because they were made for Aeroflot as souvenirs for tourists, thus they could charge a higher markup. The other sets were sold domestically in stores to locals. It’s also possible that the expansion of the plant’s capabilities allowed for them to manufacture these even cheaper after the 80s.

Final conclusions (TLDR): The fake Russian hedgehog ashtrays are made by 1МПЗ (1MPZ), or the “1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant” and NOT by Walter Bossse. They are made of zinc with injection molding, which required large scale manufacturing. One set was made in November of 1985. The original price in the 1980s was 1 Ruble and 80 Kopecks and were sold at networks of Beriozka stores. The Aeroflot set was made by the same manufacturer and the original box has an earlier date of June/July 1978. It cost 3 Rubles.

 

 

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