1931. Oblong Folio album (ca. 29x41,5 cm). 13 card stock leaves. With 78 mounted gelatin silver photographs, including three panoramas from ca. 9,5x58,5 cm (3 ¾ x 23 in) to ca. 10x43 cm (4x17 in); the rest are ca. 11x16,5 cm (4 ¼ x 6 ½ in). One panorama signed in negative, all photos carefully numbered in the paper labels on the mounts. A period typewritten list of all photos is attached to the front pastedown endpaper; captions to two photos, not placed in the album (#78 and #80), crossed out in green ink. Period green ink presentation inscription on the first leaf: “Tov. Shvernik. Trest Apatit. Kondrikov. 10/V 1931.” Period black cloth album. Overall a very good album with bright sound photos.
Historically important album of rare early photos documenting the construction and first years of operation of the “Apatit” mining plant and the city of Khibinogorsk in 1931. The plant and the working settlement named Khibinogorsk were founded in 1929 to extract the rich deposits of the apatite-nepheline ore discovered in the early 1920s on the southern slopes of the Khibiny mountains, central Kola Peninsula. The settlement and the plant grew fast, and in October 1931, Khibinogorsk received the designation of a city. In December 1934, it was renamed Kirovsk after a famous Bolshevik revolutionary Sergey Kirov, who was murdered two weeks earlier in Leningrad.
The album’s main goal was evidently to showcase the fast development of Khibinogorsk and the “Apatit” mining plant in the first two years of their existence. The presentation inscription on the first page is dated May 1931 and signed by the “Apatit’s” first director Vasily Kondrikov. Apparently, he presented the album to a powerful Soviet Communist Party functionary Nikolai Shvernik (then the member of the Party’s Orgburo and Secretariat, and the Head of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Union) to promote the idea of granting Khibinogorsk the designation of a city. This will happen five months later.
The album contains three unique panoramic views, showing 1) Khibinogorsk, Bolshoy Vudyavr Lake and the Khibiny Mountains; 2) “Apatit” mining plant under construction; and 3) Kukisvumchorr and Yuksporr Mountains with the adjacent Vortkeuaiv and Loparskaya valleys (the lines drawn in negative mark the location of the mineral deposits). Over forty photos depict the “Apatit” mining plant – the main building under construction, future warehouse for the concentrate, construction of the electrical plant, mining quarries and works on the Kukisvumchorr and Yuksporr mountains, delivery of the ore, special machinery, devices and scaffolding, piles of extracted ore at the Nefelin сrossing, drilling towers in the Loparskaya valley, etc. Over thirty photos show Khibinogorsk - the entrance arch, several street views, houses under construction, city centre, the board with the names of the best and the worst workers, interior of the post office, “Apatit” project bureau, school, typography, bindery, drugstore, ambulance station and hospital, firemen crew, firemen dormitory, horse stables, warehouses of the “Sevzapsoyuz” company (exterior and interior), mechanized bakery, workers’ canteen, kitchens of “Sevzapsoyuz,” etc.
Overall a rare detailed visual source on the Soviet mining and urban development in the Kola peninsula in the early 1930s, with ties to the impendent Great Purge. Vasily Kondrikov (1900-1937), who signed the album was a prominent Russian revolutionary and statesman, the pioneer of industrial development of the Khibiny Mountains. For his management of the “Apatit” plant, he received the Order of Lenin in 1933, but during the Great Purge of 1937 was arrested and executed in Leningrad. Nikolay Shvernik (1888-1870) took numerous high-ranking posts in the Soviet government from 1923 until the late 1960s. In 1946-53 he was the titular Soviet head of state, serving as the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.