The archives of the Academician A. E. Fersman contain a testimonial issued to Birbaum two years after the October revolution. The text reads as follows:
“Franz Petrovich Birbaum completed a course at the Polytechnicum of Fribourg (Switzerland) and served for 25 years as chief supervisor of the artistic jewellery workshops of the House of Fabergé. The most important creations of this firm were executed after the designs of F.P. Birbaum, who frequently received high awards at exhibitions of applied art. At the present time he is a senior master craftsman at the Peterhof Gem Carving Factory and a member of the Gemstone Department of the Comission on Russian Production Forces of the Academy of Sciences.
“Original signet by A. E. Fersman, 7 November 1919”.
Even before the revolution, Franz Petrovich wrote a number of articles for the journals “Yuvelir” (The Jeweller) and “Iskusstvo I Yhiyn” (Art and Life), some of which contain the master`s interesting reflections on the future development of a Russian style:
“The time has come to give more serious to the problems of applied art. If a national style is indeed to re-emerge, it must assume more cultured forms”. The artist advocates functionality for Russian-style products: “When articles are manufactured, we have the right to demand that they should correspond to our real needs, and should not only serve decorative purposes”.
“A style is created by a combination of two factors ‘ rational artistic creativity and the cultural requirements of the time. It is not created by one person, but by whole generations. A national style will not be developed in our country until we have artists who are imbued with a Russian creative spirit and with contemporary culture”.
Birbaum`s full name was Franz-Peter, so that he, like Peter-Carl Fabergé, bore a second name meaning “rock” – a significant coincidence! For such he was in life, a gentle and kind man, but rock-like in his defence of the aesthetic principles he had espoused as a youth when entering the service of the House of Fabergé. These principles may be summarized as “Beauty and Usefulness”.