This early 20th century Russian-made samovar was found in the Republic of Georgia following that small country's independence in 1991 after 70 years as part of the USSR. A maker's seal on the top shows a hammer and sickle under a star, perhaps a reason it was not retained by the original Georgian owners. The stamp includes the letters "BCHX" and "CCCP" as well as a Russian inscription. Another stamp, this one on the foot of the samovar, carries the initials "TK." The brass is coated with a silver-toned material, possibly nickle. Russian-made charcoal-fueled samovars were an integral part of tea drinking tradition throughout the Caucasus region, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Central Asia and as such were synonymous with home, hearth and hospitality. This samovar is among acquisitions made by Silk Road Gallery owners as they explored a little-known branch of the ancient Silk Route that once passed through Tblisi, Georgia's capital. As a country that geographically and historically bridged East and West, and that was closed to the world during its USSR years, Georgia is a repository for such Old World artifacts. Tea service using this samovar was labor-intensive. Charcoal was put into the center chamber and burned to heat water in the surrounding conical vessel. A teapot with a concentrated tea brew was kept hot on the top, a small bit poured into cups or glasses and then mixed with hot water drawn from the samovar. A hinged door on the bottom was used for ash removal. The small bowl included with this samovar was placed under the spout to catch any dripping hot water. The samovar has some pitting in the metal surface (see photo enlargements) but otherwise is in very good condition. Dimensions: height 20" (51 cm), width 14" (36 cm), depth 15" (38 cm). Diameter of the small bowl is 6-1/2" (16 cm).