Extracting rubber from alcohol, lost film and Easter eggs for WWI soldiers

RBTH turns the clock back a century and shines a light on the now-forgotten stories being reported on the inside pages of Russian newspapers in 1915 and the events and processes occupying the minds of the Russians of the age. Travel back in time with us week by week for a sense of what life was like in the twilight days of the Russian Empire.

Yaroslavskie Gubernskie Vedomosti (“Yaroslavl Government Gazette”), February 17, 1915

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The question of high prices

Considering our high prices a temporary phenomenon, The New Economist predicts they will fall as the result of the internal development of production.

“In any case the current augmentation of prices is a short-term phenomenon and in itself a key element of its normalization and decrease. High prices cannot fail to attract the attention of industrialists and merchants. Capital and enterprise always follow high profit. The goods will appear where the price is the most gainful.”

This academic formula, which is intended to resolve the question of low prices, contains a lot of fatalism. The following conclusion can thus be made: Prices are high. Nothing to worry about, they will fall. Since the production of goods with high market prices is profitable, it will attract capital. And when capital flows in, there will be plenty of goods, supply will exceed demand, and prices will fall. It's interesting then why such argumentation applies only to this case, not generally. However, the New Economist recommends measures for fighting against high prices, among which the center of gravity should lie in anti-speculation measures.


Moskovsky Listok (“Moscow Bulletin”), February 18, 1915

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Donate eggs!

Big, small, made of porcelain, wooden, with surprises inside or all other kinds of eggs - for an Easter egg sale to raise money for war victims. Donated eggs are accepted every day from 5-7 p.m. at the Central Bureau of the City Administration.


Rannee Utro (“Early Morning”), February 18, 1915

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World of the screen

Not long ago there was a report in the foreign press about the loss of the British steamer Dratt in the North Sea en route from Stockholm to Raumo [A mistake: The route from Stockholm, Sweden to Rauma, Finland is in the Baltic Sea, not the North Sea – RBTH].

One of the Transatlantica company’s offices, based in Moscow, has received additional information that the Dratt sank with 60,000 meters of cinematographic film aboard, which was on its way to Russia. The overall cost of the lost cargo was 30,000 rubles [In 1915 a bread loaf cost 5 kopeks, a fur coat – 200 rubles – RBTH].


ArkhangelskieGubernskieVedomosti, February 21, 1915

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A kopek in aid of soldiers and their families

The issue of Patriotic stamps costing one kopek over the nominal price is the one of the most effective among the various projects to raise the money in aid of soldiers and their families.

Donate one kopek!.. What could be more touching and easy? And the public is heeding the call and buying Patriotic stamps instead of ordinary ones - in those post offices where they are already on sale. Patriotic stamps are issued by the Imperial Women’s Patriotic Society, which was founded a hundred years ago during the Patriotic War [against Napoleon’s invading army - RBTH] for the very same purpose <..>. Today there are many charity and educational centers under its patronage.


Birzhevie Vedomosti, February 19, 1915

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Caoutchouc made from alcohol 

Head of the Central laboratory of the Ministry of Finance, Professor of the Petrograd Polytechnical Institute N. Zelinsky, returned to Petrograd from Moscow yesterday. Prof. Zelinsky was sent by the Ministry of Finance to Moscow to be present during experiments into a new method to extract caoutchouc, [natural rubber – RBTH] from alcohol. The method was invented by Moscow professor I. Ostromyslensky.

N. Zelinsky told our colleague the following about his experiments: “As you know, the question of using alcohol for technical purposes is of great interest to the Ministry since at present a great surplus of alcohol has accumulated. Prof. Ostromyslensky’s method, if factory practice confirms the laboratory tests, promises the wide utilization of alcohol and cheap production of caoutchouc, which plays an extremely important role in modern manufacturing. To what degree is Ostromyslensky’s method practical and cheap, you ask. Unfortunately, I will be able to report this to the press only in one or two 1-2 months, when all the materials I brought from Moscow have been processed and systemized. Until that time I consider all judgement upon Prof. Ostromyslensky’s method to be premature. It may only disturb an extraordinarily important process.” 


Read more: This week in quotes: Khodorkovsky as president, Pussy Riot’s new song and how Putin compares to ISIS>>>

RBTH tries to catch the most important Russia-related quotes of the week to give you a new way to look at the news.


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