The photo is showing a production shop for scabbards at the Zlatoust plant taken in 1910. Scabbards are the leather or metal protective cover for swords or knife’s, which were very important as swords were mass produced. Prokudin-Gorskii was able to capture this image and many others during this time with the help from Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation in 1909-1915. This town was known for metal production and Germans played a key role as employees in these factories.
During this time, the industrial growth of the 1890’s created the opportunity like this carpentry factory in Zlatoust to be constructed. Before this photo was taken, other important events such as the 1905 revolution fought in order to achieve better pay for workers in factories such as the one pictured above. In addition, these factories align with having one class as a means of labor, and one class that owns the factories, mills, mines, and land.
None of these factories would have been as successful without the ability to use transportation to distribute scabbards, swords, etc. The location of Zlatoust is located in the Ai River valley to the west of Chelyabinsk and was a central location for trading, and was even the first place to produce Russian cannons. As you can see from the map above, Zlatoust’s geographical location was is in a prime locations to conduct production and distribution of steel-related items. Also, former railway executive Sergei Witte became the Minister of Finance, which improved and helped create the trans-Siberian railway that increased Zlatoust’s value.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. Oxford University Press, 2009.