Successive Steps in the Production of Blades, Scabbards, and Manufacture of Welded Damask Steel at the Zlatoust Plant. Types of Soldiers' Sabers


From 1909 to 1912, Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) made several trips to the territory around the Ural Mountains, where he photographed railroad installations, factories, urban settings, and natural scenes. Among the towns Prokudin-Gorskii visited in September 1909 was Zlatoust, located in the Ai River valley to the west of Chelyabinsk. Named in honor of Saint John Chrysostom (“golden-tongued,” or zlatoust), the town was founded in 1754 and became a center of finished metal production, including armaments. In 1825 the Director of Mines, Pavel Petrovich Anosov (1796–1851), established a museum devoted to weaponry produced at the Zlatoust factory. Prokudin-Gorskii photographed the museum and documented the various stages in weapons production. Seen here are examples of a welded steel alloy known as bulat. Anosov spent several years of research in the 1830s to develop bulat as an equivalent to Damascus steel. The finished work shown in this photograph includes four saber blades, with forms for daggers at the bottom. Prokudin-Gorskii used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of his photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many different parts of the empire.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Последовательный ход выделки клинков, ножен и изготовление сварочнаго булата на Златоустовском заводе. Образцы солдатских шашек

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Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: September 28, 2016