This pair of Russian tea glass holders are decorated with the ancient art of cloisonné. These podstakanniks, which is the Russian term for the holders, are brass and feature a running red fox on each side, a main character in Russian folklore. The copper colored fox with its white belly is running across a field of blue enamel and is surrounded by branches of green leaves. The clear, hand made glasses are slightly out of round on the upper rims and are etched with bound bunches of thistles, a plant that is sometimes steamed and eaten with butter and/or rice, accompanied by a nice glass of tea, no doubt. Podstakanniks became especially popular on Russian railroads, where they kept the glasses of hot tea from spilling, and are still in use today.
The podstakanniks are 2 1/4 inches tall, 3 1/2 inches to the top of the handles and about 3 inches in diameter. There is a piece of the cloisonné missing by the handle on one (see photograph #4, upper right---be sure to zoom) and there is also another small piece missing near the rim. The other holder has a slight dent on the bottom edge, the brass handles are worn on both and one shade of blue is slightly darker than the other. The glasses are about 4 inches tall, 2 1/2 inches across and hold 8 ounces. They are in lovely condition, with no chips or cracks and the etching in like-new condition. There is a paper label on the bottom of one, printed in red, with Russian letters and numbers, none of which we were able to translate, even with a Russian keyboard.
With the podstakanniks and perhaps a samovar, Russian tea cakes and some good black tea, it's time for a tea party. They can also be displayed on a shelf or table for a touch of Russian art.
**The Russian word "pod" means "under" and the "stakan" means "glass." When you enter the Russian spelling подстаканник in Google Translate, they come up with "cup holder." Cloisonné is an exacting technique, designs made of fine wires, either glued or soldered onto the metal object, then filled with colored enamels and fired in a kiln. Russian cloisonné is highly regarded.
By: Linda Henrich
Photos By: Wayne Henrich