Newsletter 2010 Fall

Fall 2010
Feature Story: Fersman Portfolio

Fersman Portfolio – Fabergé Jewels – Nuptial Crown
by Christel Ludewig McCanless and Annemiek Wintraecken
Fersman Portfolio (Courtesy Christie's)
Fersman Portfolio
(Courtesy Christie’s)
Questions from our readers take the editors of this newsletter on the most interesting journeys. Dr. Eric Smylie of the Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas (TX), while cataloging a rare portfolio to be offered at auction, was looking for background information on Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones (Moscow: People’s Commissariat of Finances, 1925 – 26). This four-part set under the leadership of Alexander Fersman is one of a small number of surviving catalogs promoting the sale of Russia’s crown jewels in 1926. On our journey we encountered several intertwining and complicated themes. In this issue of the Fabergé Research Newsletter, we are sharing a few of the circumstances of why and how a part of the crown jewels were sold in Moscow. We will introduce personalities involved with the sale and the nuptial crown now on view in Washington (DC). In a future issue of our newsletter, we will feature in detail the nine Fabergé treasures illustrated and described in the Fersman Portfolio. The photograph below shows a plastron ordered ca. 1900 from Fabergé, sold by the Bolsheviks, and remade in 1985 for the State Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation.
Fersman Portfolio, Fabergé Plastron by Oscar Pihl (Courtesy Heritage Auctions)
Fersman Portfolio, Fabergé Plastron
by Oscar Pihl
(Courtesy Heritage Auctions)
1985 Remade Plastron (Nicholson, Jewels of the Romanovs, 1997, 56)
1985 Remade Plastron
(Nicholson, Jewels of the Romanovs,
1997, 56)
The story of the Russian crown jewels in our snapshots begins in August 1914 when they were moved from the Imperial Treasury in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, to the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow, for safe-keeping during World War I. And there they languished in crates for eight years.

After the 1917 October Revolution, the Romanov jewels became the property of the people and the fledgling Soviet government. The latter, desperate for foreign currency and equipment (such as plows and tractors), in order to rebuild its country after World War I began the sale of the crown jewels, and eventually, large amounts of Russian decorative and fine art objects.

The political turmoil surrounding these Soviet sales from 1918-1938 are discussed in three very recent publications:

Iljine, Nicolas, and Natalya Semyonova, Selling Russia’s Treasures: The Story of the Sale of Russian National Art Treasures Confiscated from the Tsarist Royal Family, the Church, Private Individuals and Museums in the USSR in 1918-1937 (Moscow: Trefoil Press, 2000). Russian and German editions.

Bayer, Waltraud, ed. Verkaufte Kultur: Die Sowjetischen Kunst- und Antiquitätenexporte, 1919-1938 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2001). In German.

Odom, Anne and Wendy R. Salmond, eds. Treasures into Tractors: The Selling of Russia’s Cultural Heritage, 1918-1938 (Washington, DC: Hillwood Estate, Museums & Gardens, 2009).

In the Spring of 1922, an inventory of the crown jewels began in Moscow. Agathon Fabergé (1876-1951), second son of Carl Fabergé and a gemstone expert who after 1916 had his own antique business, assisted in the evaluation of the crown jewels.
Agathon Fabergé, Nuptial Crown and Other Russian Crown Jewels, 1923 (Fabergé, Proler, and Skurlov, The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, 1997, 66)
Agathon Fabergé, Nuptial Crown and Other Russian Crown Jewels, 1923
(Fabergé, Proler, and Skurlov, The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs, 1997, 66)
December 18, 1925. After being stored for over 200 years in the Winter Palace and only seen at court functions, an exhibition of crown jewels was staged in Moscow. Natalya Semyonova in Verkaufte Kultur states the official goal of the venue was to introduce the working class to this ‘show of diamonds’ for the first time. An article in Pravda (December 12, 1925, 4) reported long lines of interested persons queuing for the show. The admission fee was 2 rubles, for trade union members 50 kopecks, and holders of second-issue pendant loan bonds entered free. Groups of 25 were admitted for tours by Professor Dmitry Ivanov, Director of the Kremlin Museums from 1922-1929, who during his tenure succeeded in recovering from the Soviet purge outstanding museum pieces, including 24 Fabergé eggs. A 1926 newsreel filmed in Moscow shows the crown jewels and several Fabergé Easter Eggs including the Imperial Peacock Egg with the peacock in motion.
Russian Crown Jewels Newsreel (Courtesy British Pathe)
Russian Crown Jewels Newsreel
(Courtesy British Pathe)
1925-26 The four-part Fersman catalog, Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones, begun in 1922 as a scholarly endeavor, was published as a promotional catalog to attract rich ‘foreign purchasers’.

The New York Times (February 26, 1926, 2) announced the publication of the set:

All of the glories of the Romanoff crown jewels, compromising 496 (correct number is 406) separate objects, have been recorded in four elaborate volumes published today by the jewel department of the Soviet Government … issued in four languages, Russian, English, French and German under the editorship of Professor A. E. Fersman, an eminent Russian gemologist, and S.M. Troynitsky (Director of the Hermitage Museum) of Leningrad. Government authorities say the purpose of these books is

  1. To repudiate the rumors abroad that the crown jewels have been sold or broken up,
  2. To make a contribution to the Science and History of Mineralogy,
  3. To leave for future generations of Russians an accurate and authentic description of the gems which the Government expects soon to convert into cash, and
  4. To acquaint intending foreign purchasers with the details of the collection, which is described as the greatest aggregation of regal jewels in all history.
Subsequent articles in The New York Times describe bids by an American-British group (Rudolph Oblatt and Adolph Pressels of New York, and Norman Weisz and Solomon Himmelblau of London), and a French group led by M. Frankiano. More interesting, however, is the eye-witness account of the wheeling and dealing which took place in Moscow between Norman C. Weisz and Frankiano as the bidders vs. the Bolsheviks, the sellers. William Reswick, chief of the Moscow Bureau of the Associated Press and a resident of Moscow from 1922-1934 in his recollections, I Dreamt Revolution (Chicago, Henry Regnery Co., 1952), writes about the clandestine and sometimes dangerous negotiations surrounding the Soviet sales. As a trained lawyer who immigrated to America before the Revolution, he advised Weisz and Americans without Communist involvement on business ventures. Through his contacts he understood the workings of the Politburo, the Cheka secret police, and the political climate under the Soviet regime. By the time the dispatches from the Associated Press were published in The New York Times, the terms of the negotiations had once again changed, and therefore, modern researchers do not yet have a clear picture of the events as they occurred. It is known one specific parcel from the numerous sales consisting of diadems and the last Czarina’s [wedding] crown, and 25,300 carats of diamonds, 1700 carats of emeralds, 6000 carats of precious stones as well as many, many semi-precious stones — sold for their intrinsic value, not at the antiquarian or historic value. The parcel was bought for £50,000 by Norman Weisz of London and Paris, and a syndicate.

Norman Weisz (d. 1963), a Hungarian-born jewelry merchant trading in London, is described as a ‘colorful character’. The Australian press (Poverty Bay Herald, Gisborne, New Zealand, October 19, 1920, 5) writing about him mentions his affluent wealth and lifestyle, a turf fraud case in the British court system, and calls him a ‘fashionable conspirator’. The obituary of Weisz in the Singapore Strait Times (Reuters News, July 19, 1963) states he ‘bought the Czarist crown jewels for £1 million … he came with 3s 6d in his pocket’, got a job, served in World War I, went to Russia with a letter of credit, and bought the court treasures.

In a review of The Times (London) his name appears again and again in connection with legal issues. By 1920, he had served a prison sentence of 15 months for a racehorse fraud. His sins – he entered a race for a horse which did not exist, and he disguised a previously successful race horse by painting it in a different color, then entering it under a false name in a novice race and netting at least £3000. His defense cost £10,000. From 1925-27, he was involved in buying Russian crown jewels and consigned 124 lots from the Soviet purchase to a Christie’s auction which realized £80,561. The proceeds went toward the dissolution of a partnership. Weisz may have been involved with Michel Norman of the Paris-based Australian Pearl Company in buying the Diamond Trellis Egg (made by Fabergé in 1892) from the Antikvariat (Trade Department of the Soviet government). In 1929, he was entangled as an unwilling party to a London court case brought by the Russian émigré, Princess Olga Paley. She argued Weisz was buying property amounting to $240,000 offered by people who did not own it, i.e., the Soviet government. Weisz won the case.

To paint the mood in London, we cite an article published in The Evening Post, March 16, 1927, 11:

Great interest centres in the auctioning at Christie’s on Wednesday of a portion of the Russian State jewels, which experts think will possibly realise a quarter of a million sterling. Yesterday was view day, and a stream of sightseers visited the auction rooms. When the doors closed an inconspicuous limousine drove up and Queen Mary alighted and spent half an hour privately examining the pathetic treasures. The room presented the appearance of a fairy palace, resplendent with a nuptial crown of brilliant jewels, pearl tiaras, necklaces, and the rarest gems.

At this Christie’s London sale, Magnificent Jewellery … Part of the Russian State Jewels, The Nuptial Crown (lot 62) with a simple four line description sold for £6,100 to Founés (possibly antiques dealer Isaac Founés, one of the most important dealers in French furniture of his time). The bidding started at £5,000.

The nuptial crown worn by Tsarina Alexandra when she married Tsar Nicholas II on November 26, 1894, is perhaps the most easily recognized object from the Russian crown jewels sold in the West.

Nuptial Crown, Fersman Portfolio, ca. 1922 (Courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries)
Nuptial Crown, Fersman Portfolio, ca. 1922
(Courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries)
1894 Wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna (Courtesy The Royal Collection)
1894 Wedding of Nicholas II and
Alexandra Feodorovna
(Courtesy The Royal Collection)
Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark (1888-1940), first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, during a New York visit with Pierre Cartier, described his encounter with the nuptial crown in his 1938 autobiography, Memoirs of HRH Prince Christopher of Greece.
Suddenly he (Pierre Cartier) said: ‘I would like to show you something.’ He took out a velvet case from his private safe, laid it upon the table and opened it. Within lay a diamond crown with six arches rising from the circlet and surmounted by a cross. ‘Do you recognize it?’ he asked me. I nodded wordlessly, seized by a sense of melancholy that rose from the depths of my memory. It was the crown of the Romanovs. My mother had worn it and her mother before her; it had adorned all the princesses of the imperial house on their wedding days. All at once, it seemed to me the room was filled with shades of long-dead brides. (Nadelhoffer, Hans, Cartier: Jewelers Extraordinary, 1984, 287)
Our curiosity was stirred again. We had to see pictures of the brides. Through the words of Prince Christopher, we were able to trace the crown back to the 1848 wedding of Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna (1830-1911) and Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich of Russia, second son of Tsar Nicholas I. Their daughter Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (1851-1926) married Prince Christopher’s father, George I of Greece, in 1867. King George I was the brother of Tsarina Marie Feodorovna.
1866 Tsarevna Marie Feodorovna
Tsarevna Marie
1874 GD Maria Alexandrovna
GD Maria
1884 GD Elisabeth Feodorovna
GD Elisabeth
1884 GD Elizaveta Mavrikievna
GD Elizaveta
July 1894 GD Xenia Alexandrovna
July 1894
GD Xenia
Nov. 1894 Alexandra Feodorovna
Nov. 1894
1902 GD Elena Vladimirovna
GD Elena
1908 GD Maria Pavlovna
GD Maria
Tsesarevich Alexander married the Danish Princess Dagmar in 1866 as shown in a drawing by Mihály Zichy. Grand Duchess Maria, daughter of Tsar Alexander II, married His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria in 1874. The Queen commissioned Nicholas Chevalier to sketch and paint the wedding in the Winterpalace, St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 1894, Alexandra Feodorovna wore the crown for her wedding to Tsar Nicholas II, shown in a painting by Lauritz Tuxen. The painting was commissioned by Queen Victoria who was Alexandra’s grandmother. After the Tsarina, the crown was worn in 1902 by Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna at her wedding to Prince Nicholas of Greece, and in 1908, for the very last time, by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the younger) at her wedding to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and Norway. (Images Courtesy State Hermitage Museum, The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Alexander Palace Forum)

In less glamorous times the journey of the nuptial crown from the 1927 London auction to the 1966 New York auction must surely involve both jewelers and owners – as yet unknown – on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. In the 1930’s the crown was seen by Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark at Cartier in New York, and then it was sold from the estate of Helen de Kay of New York in 1966. Its journey after this time is well documented – Harry Levinson, A La Vieille Russie on behalf of Marjorie Merriweather Post, and from July 5, 1977, on public view at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington (DC).

Helen de Kay (incorrectly cited as deKay), the widow of Sidney Gilder de Kay, vice president, director and general legal counsel of Olin Industries, manufacturers of rifles, shotguns, ammunition, skeet equipment, survived her husband by seventeen years. She was a collector of many interests – jewels, paintings, valuable Chinese jade, coral, carvings and furniture for her two residences in New York City and Greenwich (CT). Her small Fabergé collection of seven pieces was part of a four-day estate sale at Parke-Bernet in early December 1966. The December 7th jewelry sale which included the nuptial crown and a golden chalice realized $1,115,585. Both objects are now in the Marjorie Merriweather Post Collection, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington (DC). Her articulated female figure of a bowenite magot (female goddess of happiness and good fortune) by Fabergé sold for $35,000 on December 9, 1966. Current whereabouts unknown.

The New York Times (December 8, 1966) reviewing the sale states, ‘A flurry of bids brought the price of the bejeweled crown from $15,000 to about $50,000 and then Harry Levinson and A La Vieille Russie of New York fought it out. Mr. Levinson won’.

Mr. Harry Levinson, of Levinson's Jewels, Chicago, Illinois (Photo Corbis Images)
Mr. Harry Levinson, of Levinson’s Jewels, Chicago, Illinois
(Photo Corbis Images)
The underbidder, Mr. Alexander Schaffer, was bidding for Mrs. Post and after the sale at Mrs. Post’s request, he negotiated a price with Levinson to buy the crown for her collection. (Odom and Salmond, Treasures into Tractors, 2009, 293, end note 42)

One final stop on our journey was to find out how many of the 350 printed copies of the Fersman catalogs still exist. Ten English language editions are in American libraries, and one each in Berlin and Munich. Two copies in French with the title, Les Joyaux du Trésor de Russie, are in a British private collection and a Paris library. The authors are not aware of any German editions. Auction records reveal four English copies have come under the hammer:

1987 Sotheby’s New York sold a copy to Theodore Horowitz for $2640, including the buyer’s premium. It was sold 10 years later by Christie’s Geneva for $21,304, and is now in the Liddicoat Gemological Library, Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad (CA).

2000-01 Sotheby’s London sold two copies for $21,084 and $45, 992, inclusive of the buyers’ premiums.

2007 A copy with an Ex Libris Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, later King Umberto II of Italy sold at Christie’s London for $141,984.

Two French editions have sold at Christie’s – in 2008 in Geneva a copy signed by Alexander E. Fersman realized $71,861, and in London in 2010 a copy realized $64,230.

On October 14-15, 2010, an English edition with an Ex Libris of the Dallas jeweler, Arthur A. Everts Co., will be auctioned by Heritage Auctions, Beverly Hills, (CA).

Kudos: Our thanks to Dr. Smylie of Heritage Auction Galleries, Marie Betteley, Geoffrey Munn of Wartski, and our librarian friends who always turn up treasures in books – Lois White (Getty Research Library), Rose Tozer (Liddicoat Library, Gemological Institute of America), Pam Payne (Huntsville Public Library), and Anne Coleman (Salmon Library, University of Alabama in Huntsville).

June 8, 2010 Christie’s London
Russian Art
Highlights from the sale included a Fabergé silver and bowenite Japonisme-inspired table lamp with a Nobel family provenance (achieved £193,250 with an estimate £80,000 – 120,000), and a Fabergé hardstone model of a turkey (£193,250, est. of £60,000 – 80,000). A Fabergé bonbonnière with a scratched inventory number 22267, similar to Wigström sketches, realized £115,250 (est. £20,000 – 30,000). According to Christie’s, the sale results for the Fabergé items were 97% by value and 95% sold by lot, and this maintained Christie’s 53% of the total Fabergé market share. (Information courtesy of Helen Culver Smith, Christie’s)
Fabergé Turkey (Courtesy Christie's)
Fabergé Turkey
(Courtesy Christie’s)
Denissov-Uralski Turkey (Muntian, Fabergé: Juwelier van de Romanovs, 2005, 119)
Denissov-Uralski Turkey
(Muntian, Fabergé: Juwelier
van de Romanovs
, 2005, 119)
Dr. Géza von Habsburg, guest curator, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, shared his observations on Russian hardstone animal figures and their authorship:
The turkey in Christie’s June sale (lot 177) was probably, despite Henrik Wigström’s initials, carved by A. K. Denissov-Uralski of the celebrated lapidary workshop from Ekatarinenburg. A very similar turkey with an identical purpurine comb and wattles, still in its original fitted case stamped with this hardstone carver’s name and his St. Petersburg address at Morskaya 27, is in the State Art Gallery in Perm, Russia. This does not preclude the attribution to Fabergé. It was not an uncommon practice during that era to acquire a hardstone animal or other object, and to sell it under one’s own name. Both Cartier and Fabergé were known to have done it. In this case, Wigström would have replaced the original bronze legs of the bird with gold feet made in his own workshop. There is one case on record where the same Ekatarinenburg lapidary sold an animal figure without feet.

Born in 1864, Alexei Kuzmich Denissov (he added Uralski to his name to reflect the region from which he came) received his diploma of master in sculpture from the Ekatarinenburg guild of sculptors in 1884 and exhibited his works in Scandinavia, Paris, Reims (where he obtained a Gold Medal in 1903), and in St. Louis (where he was awarded a Silver Medal in 1904). He established himself in St. Petersburg first at Moika Street 42 and became Fabergé’s neighbor on Bolshaya Morskaya Street between 1910 and 1913.

In 1911/12 the jeweler Cartier acquired an impressive total of 62 animal figures from Denissov-Uralski. The acquisitions included an obsidian owl which is illustrated as a pencil drawing in the margin of the French firm’s acquisition ledgers. It is virtually identical to an owl in the Lillian Thomas Pratt Collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The latter, however, despite its original fitted case stamped Fabergé, was apparently also an acquisition from Denissov-Uralski. It is known from contemporary sources that Fabergé’s in-house stone-carving workshop, founded in 1908, was swamped with orders, and was barely able to keep up with the incoming commissions. What may have been more logical than to turn to his celebrated neighbor for help?

The catalog of the Russian Collection at the Virginia Museum to be published in July 2011, to coincide with the opening of the Fabergé Revealed exhibition, will discuss in greater detail the complex problem of (re-?) attributions of Russian hardstone animal figures. Hopefully, a seminar planned to be held in Richmond, Virginia, in conjunction with the exhibition will allow a further discussion of this subject.

November 11, 2010 Auktionshaus Dr. Fischer, Heilbronn, Germany
Russian Art, Fabergé and Icons includes a Fabergé glass and silver inkwell stand.

November 29, 2010 Christie’s, London
Russian Art

November 2010 Olivier Coutau-Begarie, Paris
Russian Art

December 1, 2010 Sotheby’s, London
Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons

(Updates are posted in Exhibitions on the Fabergé Research Site)
September 16 – October 8, 2010 Galerie Didier Aaron, Paris
A La Vieille Russie à Paris: Fabergé et la Russie impériale au carrefour des cultures
Box with Portrait of Catherine the Great and Violet by Fabergé (Courtesy A La Vieille Russie)
Box with Portrait of Catherine the Great and Violet by Fabergé (Courtesy A La Vieille Russie)

Box with Portrait of Catherine the Great and Violet by Fabergé
(Courtesy A La Vieille Russie)

The New York antique shop A La Vieille Russie will be showcasing its Paris history with an exhibition of Fabergé objects and a special presentation of their guest book from the period. The livre d’or includes well-known visitors – Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, the Russian art critic and historian Alexander Benois, Grand Duchesses Olga and Xenia Alexandrovna, the painter Salvador Dali and movie star Marlene Dietrich, all émigrés who visited or lived in Paris ca. 90 years ago. A catalog of highlights will be published.

September 18 – October 10, 2010 Russian Ambassador’s Residence, Hôtel d’Estrées, Paris
Arts et Traditions en Russie, de Pierre le Grand à Nicolas II
Exhibition is part of a Russia in France celebration year. Selected Fabergé items from this exhibition will be in a November auction at Olivier Coutau-Begarie. Contact.

November 23 – December 3, 2010 Wartski London
The Last Flowering of Court Art

Typical Russian Pilgrim (Courtesy Christie's)
Typical Russian Pilgrim
(Courtesy Christie’s)
Siberian Hardstones Bogomoletz (Courtesy Wartski)
Siberian Hardstones Bogomoletz
(Courtesy Wartski)
A Fabergé hardstone figure of a bogomoletz, a religious pilgrim of Imperial Russia who travelled to his place of destination by begging on the way, has rarely been seen in public. In 1970, this figure fetched $27,000 at a Parke-Bernet New York auction. Twenty-eight years later, the same figure realized $409,500, including the buyer’s premium at Christie’s New York. This Fall during the traditional Russian Week auctions in London Fabergé enthusiasts will have an opportunity to view this figure and other Fabergé objects from a private Russian collection.

Spring 2011 A brief announcement in the Swiss Basler Zeitung (June 13, 2010) suggests a possible exhibition of “The Link of Times” Collection (the former Forbes Magazine Collection and now owned by Viktor Vekselberg) may be in the planning stage.

General News
The fate of Russia’s last Imperial Family is well-known throughout the world. But whatever became of the other members of the Imperial House of Russia after the Empire was swallowed up by the Bolshevik Revolution? The answer to this question is a compilation by Professor Kent Sole and now updated with new information and photographs by Paul Gilbert, Web Site Administrator of Royal Russia.
The Dowager Empress and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich, Jr., Departing Yalta Onboard the HMS Marlborough on 8 April, 1919. (Courtesy Royal Russia)

The Dowager Empress and Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich, Jr.,
Departing Yalta Onboard the HMS Marlborough on 8 April, 1919.
(Courtesy Royal Russia)

On September 10, 2010, Tatiana Fabergé, great grand-daughter of Carl Fabergé, will be the featured speaker in Richmond at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She will reveal details and never before heard stories about the Fabergé workshops in her presentation, Fabergé Revealed: An Evening with Tatiana Fabergé.

Fabergé Bowl Presented to Allan Bowe in 1895 Honoring His Service to the Firm (Bowl Photograph Courtesy Forbes Magazine Collection)
Fabergé Bowl Presented to Allan Bowe in 1895 Honoring His Service to the Firm (Bowl Photograph Courtesy Forbes Magazine Collection)

Fabergé Bowl Presented to Allan Bowe in 1895 Honoring His Service to the Firm
(Bowl Photograph Courtesy Forbes Magazine Collection)

Wendy Bonus, The Fabergé Connection: A Memoir of the Bowe Family, 2010.
The author is a great grand-daughter of Henry Allan Talbot Bowe, business partner of Carl Fabergé from 1887 to 1906. Using family diaries from Bowe’s daughter Essie and standard Fabergé books, Ms. Bonus has written her family’s history. During Bowe’s tenure with the House of Fabergé the Moscow and Kiev branches were opened. His brother Arthur opened and managed the London branch beginning in 1903.
Fabergé Animals: A Royal Farm in Miniature
Fabergé Animals:
A Royal Farm in Miniature
Caroline de Guitaut, Fabergé Animals: A Royal Farm in Miniature. Available October 2010. Book authored by the Assistant Curator and Loans Officer at the Royal Collection of Queen Elizabeth II, is the first publication to explore the complete history of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s Sandringham commission of Fabergé animal carvings in 1907. Stunning close-up photography of the carvings themselves and contextual material from both the Russian and the Royal Archives, some of which has never been published before, round out a view into this unique collection.
Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court
Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court

Papi, Stefano, Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court, 2010. Author has spent years unraveling the mysteries of Russian Imperial jewelry and in this book he identifies pieces with little or unknown provenance from the Romanov era, 1613-1917. Fascinating stories behind the jewels and the people evolve as Papi follows the Romanov line in their lives as refugees.

Readers Forum
  • Symbolism of the Pelican Egg
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt. (Photo by Katherine Wetzel © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt. (Photo by Katherine Wetzel © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt.
(Photo by Katherine Wetzel Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)

In 1898 Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna received the Pelican Egg from her son, Tsar Nicholas II. Newsletter co-editor Annemiek Wintraecken, using Internet resources not previously available to researchers, has published new findings on the Pelican Egg on her Fabergé’s Imperial Easter Eggs website.
  • Photo Identification
Fabergé Shop in St. Petersburg (Courtesy Wartski)
Fabergé Shop in St. Petersburg
(Courtesy Wartski)
An original photograph annotated in French by Eugène Fabergé, the eldest son of Carl Fabergé, has come to light in the Wartski London archives. Names of the persons in the photo and their duties are now known.

Searching for Fabergé
  • Update on Queen Victoria Jubilee Brooch (Fabergé Research Newsletter, Summer 2010) The Times (London), October 18, 1897, 8A, in the article, The Queen’s Jubilee Presents and Addresses, mentions among the gifts from “… the family of Princess Alice, including the Emperor and Empress of Russia … a brooch of diamonds and of beautiful cabochon sapphires”.
  • Is anyone aware of a set of flatware in the King’s pattern marked Fabergé?
  • The newsletter editors are frequently asked about Fabergé cigarette cases. Have any studies been done on this topic other than the 1998 publication on the Traina Collection of cigarette cases?
  • A reader is interested in identifying the monogram on the cigarette case shown below.
Silver Art Nouveau Case
Silver Art Nouveau Case

Silver Art Nouveau Case

  • Searching for a series of miniature portraits of Tsar Alexander III, probably rectangular or square, possibly similar to the miniatures of the 1890 Danish Palaces Egg. The miniatures with the Danish palaces and yachts, as well as other Russian jewels, can be seen in a 1933 newsreel.
Jewels! (Courtesy British Pathe)
(Courtesy British Pathe)
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