Here is a blessing cross in silver, made by the noted Russian firm and maker of ecclesiastical implements Olovyanishnikov (П. И. Оловянишникова сыновья/P. I. Olovyanishnikov’s Sons) It once had a handle at the base.
The central painted icon contained within the silver casing is the “Not Made by Hands” image of Jesus, which was very popular with the Russian military. Two angels — hands covered as a sign of veneration — are at the sides.
The cross has a partly-abbreviated engraved inscription taken from Matthew 22:37:
Бога твоего всемъ
сердцемъ твоимъ и
всею душею твоею
и всею мыслию твоею
Boga tvoego vsem”
serdtsem” tvoim” i
vseiu dusheiu tvoeiu
i vseiu muisliu tvoeiu
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.”
The Olovyanishnikovs began their gradual rise as a Russian peasant family on an estate belonging to the Yaroslavl Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery (“Savior-Transfiguration Monastery”). Over generations their circumstances improved. Porfiriy Ivanovich (1822-1881) moved his family to Moscow and through the business of casting bells made the family name famous.
Porfiriy was succeeded by his sons Ivan Porfirievich (1844-1898) and Sergey Porfirevich (1856-1890). In 1882 they founded the firm П. И. Оловянишникова сыновья — “P. I. Olovyanishnikov’s Sons, which again began with the casting of bells, but later they opened a factory for the making of Church implements such as clerical vestments, icons, banners, crosses, etc. Objects in precious metals were often created in the then-fashionable Neo-Russian style.
After the death of Ivan Porfierievich in 1898, management of the company came into the hands of his widow Evpraksia Georgievna (1851-1925), with the board remaining in Moscow, and offices in St. Petersburg, Tula, and Yaroslavl.
As a result of the Revolution of October, 1917, the factory of Church utensils was closed; the bell factory was destroyed after the 1918 Yaroslavl uprising. The family fell on hard times; some were exiled or emigrated, and at least one was killed by the Bolsheviks.
Here is a photo of the family in better times, at the beginning of the 20th century:
They are, from left:
Ivan Ivanovich with wife Vera Nikolaevna; Georgiy Ivanovich; Porfiriy Ivanovich; Evpraksiya Georgievna; Nikolay Ivanovich; Tat’yana Ivanovna;
Standing from left to right:
Vladimir Ivanovich; Mariya Ivanovna; Ekaterina Nikolaevna,with husband Viktor Ivanovich
Here is the reverse of the cross, ornamented with engraved floral designs: