I recently received an early birthday gift from my mother............ and I must say, it's the PERFECT gift for a dedicated "Shovel Collector" like myself!
This shovel is a WW1 vintage trench spade from the Imperial Russian Army, and if that wasn't good enough, it is also a rare saw-tooth version!
My mother picked this up at an antique mall down in Northern California. She sent me a few photos of it on the shelf and asked me if I was interested. Of course my answer was "YES!". It took a while to find its way up north, but it finally arrived by "mom's special delivery". Thanks Mom!
This shovel is dated 1916, and has the maker's mark of the "Karl Spiegel" company of Saint Petersburg Russia. The shovel also has another stamp with a Cyrillic "K" in an octagon. This "K" mark is an inspectors stamp that was assigned to Captain Krapivin.
The Karl Spiegel makers mark is in the Cyrillic letters К Ш.
The Karl Spiegel (Карл Шпигель) factory was founded in 1888, and closed up after the Russian Revolution in 1917. The factory was the largest in the Saint Petersburg, industrial manufacturing sector.
The blade is nicely serrated along one edge. I can not tell if this an original feature, or if it was filed in by a previous owner. No matter how the serrated edge was applied to the shovel, it is definitely old. My guess is that it was manufactured like this at the factory. These serrated blades are more often seen on German shovels from this time period, and very rarely seen on the old Imperial Russian shovels.
NOTE: The photos of the "saw teeth" on the edge of the blade were inspected and by two prominent and knowledgeable collectors and Russian shovel historians. It is of their opinion that the shovel may be a rare prototype of some sort, or a conversion done at a civil, or military workshop. There are no documented Imperial Russian shovel that were made and issued with this serrated edge. They both agree, that the serations appear to be original to the shovel and are too uniform and finely done to have been hand filed by a field soldier. The shovel is a rarity! The research continues...........
There are a couple of shades of green paint on the blade, so it saw at least one re-paint in its earlier life. The paint only remains in the protected areas around the blade rivets. the first layer of paint is a blue-green, and the top layer of paint is an olive green.
The handle has what looks like the Cyrillic letter "П" carved into it. This letter is the Russian equivalent of the letter "P" in english. The letter is most likely a personal marking standing for the owner's first or last name.
All in all, this is a beautiful example of a WW1 vintage, Imperial Russian spade that more than likely saw service on one of the fronts of WW1.
It makes a very nice companion to my other Imperial Russian shovels. You can check them out here:
Let's take a closer look at this wonderful, and rare little shovel: