The History of Fabergé

 

The firm “Fabergé” was founded in 1842 by jeweller Gustav Fabergé, but it was when son Peter Carl joined the firm that it became more prominent. In 1869 he sold the first pieces to the St. Petersburg Hermitage. The first actual Imperial Fabergé egg was crafted for Tsar Alexander III, who decided to give his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna, a Jewelled Easter Egg in 1885 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed that the Tsar’s inspiration for the piece was an egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Wilhelmine Marie of Denmark, which had captivated Maria’s imagination in her childhood. This first egg was known as the Hen Egg and was crafted from gold. Its opaque white enameled ‘shell’ opens to reveal its first surprise, a matte yellow gold yolk. This in turn then opens to reveal a multi-coloured gold hen that also opens. It contains a minute diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended. Unfortunately these last two surprises have been lost over the years.

 

Empress Maria was so delighted by this gift that Alexander appointed Fabergé a ‘goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown’. He commissioned another egg the following year. After that, Peter Carl Fabergé, who headed the House, was apparently given complete freedom for future Imperial Easter Eggs, as from this date their designs become more elaborate. According to the Fabergé family tradition, not even the Tsar knew what form they would take: the only requirement was that each one should contain a surprise. Following the death of Alexander III on November 1st 1894, his son presented a Fabergé egg to both his wife, the Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, and to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna.

 

However, no Fabergé eggs were made for 1904 and 1905 because of the Russo-Japanese War. Once an initial design had been approved by Peter Carl Fabergé, the work was carried out by an entire team of craftsmen, among them Michael Perkhin, Henrik Wigström and Erik August Kollin.

The Imperial eggs enjoyed great fame, and Fabergé made some other large eggs for a few select private clients, such as the Duchess of Marlborough, the Nobels, the Rothschilds and the Yusupovs. A series of seven jewelled eggs was made for the industrialist Alexander Kelch.

 

One of the most famous, recent Fabergé style Eggs made was seen in the 1983 James Bond 007 film Octopussy, starring Roger Moore and Maude Adams. In the film The Green Gold Imperial Coronation Easter Egg was the object of a bidding war between James Bond and Kamal Khan. Bond replaces the real egg with a replica. This Jewelled Egg was made by the world famous Asprey Jewellers London and was based on the original design of the Coronation Fabergé Egg.

 

Below is the complete list of the Tsar Fabergé Eggs made:

 

1885 Hen

1886 Hen with Sapphire Pendant

1887 Blue Serpent Clock

1888 Cherub with Chariot

1889 Nécessaire

1890 Danish Palaces

1891 Memory of Azov

1892 Diamond Trellis

1893 Caucasus

1894 Renaissance

1895 Rosebud

1895 Twelve Monograms

1896 Revolving Miniatures

1896 Alexander III Portraits

1897 Coronation

1897 Mauve

1898 Lilies-of-the-Valley

1898 Pelican

1899 Bouquet of Lilies Clock

1899 Pansy

1900 Trans-Siberian Railway

1900 Cockerel

1901 Basket of Wild Flowers

1901 Gatchina Palace

1902 Clover Leaf

1902 Empire Nephrite

1903 Peter the Great

1903 Royal Danish

1904 No eggs made

1905 No eggs made

1906 Moscow Kremlin

1906 Swan

1907 Rose Trellis

1907 Cradle with Garlands

1908 Alexander Palace

1908 Peacock

1909 Standart Yacht

1909 Alexander III Commemorative

1910 Colonnade

1910 Alexander III Equestrian

1911 Fifteenth Anniversary

1911 Bay Tree

1912 Czarevich

1912 Napoleonic

1913 Romanov Tercentenary

1913 Winter

1914 Mosaic

1914 Grisaille

1915 Red Cross with Triptych

1915 Red Cross with Imperial Portraits

1916 Steel Military

1916 Order of St. George

1917 Karelian Birch

1917 Constellation (unfinished)

† Indicates the egg is missing.



 

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