Who among us does not remember the hero of Gogol's story "Dead Souls" by the landowner Plyushkin! It is interesting that this literary character had a namesake who was also keen on collecting, albeit on a larger scale.
The merchant Fyodor Mikhailovich Plyushkin was born in 1837 in the city of Valdai. His father died when the boy was not eleven years old. Fedor had to become a distributor of goods. A few years later he opened his own shop in Pskov, later became a major trader, a merchant of the first guild.
In the 60s of the 19th century, the young merchant Fyodor Plyushkin became interested in collecting. He began to acquire coins from the Pskov treasures, paintings, prints and other antiques.
Plyushkin could be called an "omnivorous" gatherer: he bought almost everything that was brought to him. Over the years, Fyodor Mikhailovich became a major specialist in the field of antiques. His collection was not inferior to the collections of the largest museums.
By the end of his life, Plyushkin had collected more than 100, 000 coins, 2, 500 ancient engravings, 250 watches, and about 500 icons. In addition - crystal, silver, antique shoes, clothes, snuff boxes, archeological and ethnographic items. The total number of exhibits is over a million. No one in Russia possessed a more diverse collection!
Plyushkin kept his collection in his own house, having allocated 9 rooms for this on the second floor. There was a shop on the first floor, and the merchant's family lived on the third.
The collection of paintings, in which there were more than 1, 000 canvases, was especially famous. The works of Aivazovsky, Shishkin, Venetsianov, Bryullov and other great artists were kept here.
Fyodor Mikhailovich died in April 1911 in Pskov. Representatives of foreign antique firms began to come to the merchant's heirs with tempting offers.
The merchant's relatives were against the export of the collection abroad and offered the Russian government to buy it in full for 350 thousand rubles. To assess the collection of Fyodor Mikhailovich Plyushkin, a special commission went to Pskov, which included famous numismatists, historians, archaeologists, jewelers, etc.
Only in 1913 the collection was purchased by the government for 100, 000 rubles. The best exhibits were sent to the Russian Museum, the rest were distributed among different museums.
Alas, it was not possible to keep the unique collection of the Pskov merchant intact. In total, the location of about 10% of the Plyushkin collection (100 thousand exhibits) is now known.
After the revolution, Plyushkin's son Sergei, like a white officer, was shot by the Pskov communists. But the Plyushkin family did not interrupt; in 1996, the collector's great-grandson organized an exhibition of preserved items from the collection and published a book about his famous ancestor.