Faberge Easter Eggs
Peter Carl Fabergé original name Carl Gustavovich Fabergé (May 30, 1846 - September 24, 1920) was a Russian jeweller, best known for the famous Faberge eggs, made in the style of genuine Easter eggs, but using precious metals and gemstones rather than more mundane materials. He created works of art with which he intuitively captured the taste and interests of his customers. These contemporaries, Russians and foreigners, sought the remarkable, the pleasant. That is why, upon the dawn of the new century, they felt that their lives were about to undergo incomprehensible changes. Everyone was waiting for a miracle, for events which had never occurred before, new experiences. And it was precisely these expectations which Fabergé fulfilled: in each of his artistic Easter eggs he hid a tiny surprise, perhaps an intricate model of a yacht or a basket filled with spring flowers. All Faberge's other articles - cigarette cases, jewellery boxes, buckles, watch chains and even photograph frames - were characterised by an inimitable lightness, elegance and purity of style.
And, talking of surprises, strange things also happened: irritated by a customer's insistence at being shown something new, the maestro once announced that square eggs were to be sold in a few days' time. The staff in attendance could bearly suppress their laughter. The customer, who failed to cotton on, appeared on the day in question to buy her square eggs. How great was her disappointment to find out that the work had not been completed!
"Stars" such as Michail Perchim, August Holmstrom and July Rappoport, as well as Carl Faberge's three sons, the artist Jevgeny, the sculptor, modeler and enameller Alexander and the expert, Agafon. who eventually replaced his father at the Russian court as the supplier of jewellery and precious stones: all these people worked at Faberge's factories. There was always complete agreement and order. Fabergd's relations with this staff were "fatherly". ThisHis skilled hands created masterpieces at the Faberge company is probably also one of the reasons for the company's large productivity: Faberge's factories produced a total of 56 decorative Easter eggs for the Russian rulers Alexander TIT and Nicholas TT alone -alongside all the other orders received at the same time, not least of all for repairs to jewellery! Only a company with an expert management and with a climate of mutual understanding could have created such a large number of beautiful objects.
The years passed by. In the years before World War II, genuine art lovers continued to buy Faberge articles. The only difference was that they now cost a good deal less: a golden enamelled watch went for a price of 65 dollars, a golden, enamel picture frame 95 dollars, a delicately crafted silver clasp a mere 15 dollars. The round tin with light-blue enamel and the monogram of Nikolay II had been bought for 250 dollars, sold again almost immediately for 700 dollars and finally, in 1979, resold for 42,800 dollars. A few figures: the pink, twelve-faced egg, which now belongs to the Queen of England, cost roughly 850 dollars in 1933, the tobacco tin with the crown cost 1,700 dollars in 1937 and the cigarette case with red enamel, that was sold for 8,000 dollars in 1975, had originally fetched 54 dollars in the thirties. There are also stories of failed transactions: when, in 1940, Faberge's son Carl wanted to auction a tea set crafted in enamel using the separation technique, he failed to receive the price he wanted. The smoked topaz vase met with a similar fate: the auction house considered that a price of 1,350 dollars was loo high for such a "handicraft".
And today? One of the largest Faberge collections, comprising more than 450 items including two Easter eggs, is held by the British royal family. Malcolm Fftrbs' collection is almost as good, although it includes 10 Easter eggs which once belonged to the Russian tsars. Eight of the 56 eggs created by master craftsmen Michail Perchin and Heinrich Bigstrem have disappeared without a trace. Of the remaining 48,10 are contained in the Forbs collection, as stated above, ten in the State Museum of the Moscow Kremlin, 17 in American collections and eight in European collections. The owners of a further 3 eggs are unknown.
However, now the time has come to tell the rest of the story. In 1914, the tsar family's possessions were removed from the palaces of St. Petersburg and taken to the vaults of the Moscow Kremlin, where they received new owners in 1917. Under a secret verdict passed by the Scientific Department of the Narkompros/ Commission for People's Education of the RSFSR, Fabergg's Easter eggs were declared to be ornate objects of no real value for museum purposes". Thus, for example, the Chairman of the Experts Commission, Maxim Gorki, who selected antique objects for sale to Europe, stated that "they are neither art nor antique objects, but rather artistically treated silver. Hence, they are trading commodities which have turned into antique goods by virtue of the fact that they are no longer produced." Heinous crimes against art always hurt. But what is particularly painful is that this crime against Faberge arose only because the USSR was determined from the first day of its existence to e-radicate entire, glorious pages of Russian history from its people's memories. How many priceless treasures were sold abroad? The notorious Armand Hammer was responsible for such sales. This "self-less friend of the USSR", re-moved wagons and wagons of national riches from our sorely afflicted country. The result is plain enough: four times as many of Faberge's Easter eggs are to be found in foreign collections as in Russian museums thanks to Hammer.
The world is being flooded with imitations. And here, too, Hammer has left his traces: the Soviet leaders gave him the company seal of the Faberge masters, allowing a counterfeit industry to develop. The idea was taken up and spread. Today, it is linked with internationally organised crime. The names of a number of small "manufacturers" are known; one lives in St. Petersburg, another can be found at Brighton Beach, New York.
But who are these unknown jewellers, the creators of jewellery and artistic objects, capable of making honest experts dispair? How much do the enterprising gentlemen pay these craftsmen? After all, there are numerous cases in art history of the brilliant craftsman who earns his "customer" a fortune, only to live in great poverty himself. Or do they swim in riches, laughing at attempts to restore the honour of one of Russia's sons? After all, these attempts are anything but naive: a whole army of qualified specialists is committed to protecting the Faberge name. As well as this, there are still members of the family, Carl Faberge's descendants. Under the terms of a special agreement which they have signed with each other, a great-grand daughter of the company's founder, Tatjana Fjodorovna Faberge, who lives in France, represents the family's interests. The task of managing the famous name of Faberge is a very honourable one. And not at all easy in view of everything which has been stated above. It only remains to be hoped that the joint efforts of all those wishing to protect Faberge and his name bear fruit.