No. 32 (1): Tait American Diamond Palace

Commercial Building

The look of the building, located right next to the Catholic church on Nevsky, exemplifies the early 20th century practice of placing commercial advertisements directly on the façade, which upset many Petersburg residents, who deplored the aesthetic defacement of city architecture. Starting at the top of the building, we see an ad for Musical-Vocal Dramatic Courses. Right below is “Parovoz” (steam engine) for steam engines made by Orenshtein and Koppel, an advertisement that combines text and pictorial representation. One floor lower is an ad for Rathke’s pianos, with pictures of grand pianos. Just below we see the first Women’s Pharmacy in Petersburg. And at street level is the American shop Tait Diamonds.

Tait diamonds were not real, but fake – rhinestones, in other words, cut to look like the original things. Describing the sinister look of Nevsky Prospect at night, Bely emphasized the glitter of the lit up letters making up the name of the shop Tait Diamonds (Brillianty Teta). Marina Tsvetaeva does the same in a poem about Tverskaia Street, Tait’s location in Moscow. A newspaper ad of the time claimed that “Tait Diamonds were the best imitations in the world.”


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