Russian Folk Handicrafts

Golden Khokhloma


Northen Folk Art - Mezen

Lipetskiye Uzory

Russian Matryoshkas

Sergiev Posadskaya Matryoshka

Semionovskaya Matryoshka

Polkhovsky-Maidan Matryoshka
Vyatskaya Matryoshka

Russian Easter Eggs

Faberge Jewellery

House of Faberge

List of Faberge Eggs

Imperial Eggs

Faberge Works
Famous Collections of Faberge

Russian Linen

Russian Shawls

Russian Orenburg Shawls

Pavlovo Posad Shawls

Russian Cashmere Shawls

Lacquer Painting





Russian Icon Painting

Origin of Icons
Early Russian Icons
Golden Age of Russian Icon
Understanding Icons
Icon Painting Schools in Russia
Russian Icon in the Modern Age
Russian Icon Painters
Famous Russian Icons
Icon Painting Nowadays
Icon Restoration

Porcelain & Ceramics

Lomonosov Porcelain
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Under the Tsars
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory After the Revolution
Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Today


Samovars & Trays

Traditional Samovars

Tula Samovar

Zhostovo Trays

Nizhny Tagil Trays

Russian Watches








Russian Cuisine

Russian Traditional Food

Russian Drinks
Russian Vodka
Samogon - Home Made Vodka

Hand-Made Lace

Vologda Lace

Yeletskie Kruzheva

Russian Glassware
Dyatkovo Crystal Plant
Gus-Khrustalny Crystal Factory

Russian Traditional Toys

Toys of Old Russia
Russian Toys Today
Dymkovskaya Toy

Bogorodskaya Toy

Made in Russia
Made in Russia

contact us:
15/113 generala simonyaka street
198261 st petersburg
phone: 8 812 9136128

Faberge and America

All Thomas Colt, Jr., Director of the Virginia Museurn flf Fine Arts in 1947, knew was that a wealthy Mrs. John Lee Pratt had willed to the Museum her collection of the last Russian Czar's family trinkets. . . . When he unwrapped Mrs. Pratt's gift, he found: a world globe of topaz on a solid gold base; a rock crystal Easter egg rimmed with diamonds, . . . {Life Magazine, November 1947). The globe and the egg were advertised in 1939 for $2500 and $55,000, respectively. Their story suggests the fruitfulness of exploring the fate of Faberge objects and their American collectors, both at the time Faberge was still active, and from the Revolution to the post-war period, when public sales became more frequent and knowledge became more widespread.

It is true that the vast majority of Faberge's clientele was composed of Europe's wealthy upper class, including royalty, but it also included more than one American who shopped before World War I, not only in St. Petersburg and in Moscow but also in London. Their acquisitions - with the exception of those made by Henry Walters of Baltimore, who, beginning in 1900, continued his interest in Faberge after the Revolution -were for the most part limited to a few pieces, souvenirs of an exotic voyage or gifts for friends. They included purchases in St. Petersburg of the gold, enamel, and rock crystal sedan chair (The FORBES Magazine Collection, New York) selected by the junior J. P. Morgan, and the pink enamel Duchess of Marlborough egg (The FORBES Magazine Collection) acquired by Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1902. An elaborate gold and jewelled nephrite lotus form vase, possibly intended as a gift for H. M. King Chulalongkorn of Siam (exhibited A La Vieille Russie 1983, no. 310), was purchased by a Miss Morris of Philadelphia in August of 1903 in Moscow for the princely sum of 3250 roubles (fig. 1). Less important but probably more typical was a gold, ruby, and nephrite box (ALVR 1983, no. 168) obtained in London by Princess Hatzfeldt (the former Claire Huntington of Detroit, Michigan) in 1911 for ?40.

These 'curio' collectors predated the collectors of the 1930s, such as Mrs Pratt, whose motivations included preserving the legacy of the Tsars, and the more focused collectors of the post-World War II period, which included Mr and Mrs Jack Linsky, Lansdell Christie, and Malcolm Forbes. They were influenced not only by the reputation of the House of Faberge and the charm and quality of its wares, but also by the exposure Russian art was receiving in the West. According to the introduction to the catalogue of the Russian section of the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, for example, 'It was the High Wish of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, that the Russian exhibitors should profit of all aid and assistance to participate at the Exhibition', and indeed works by many of Faberge's competitors, including Grachev, Hahn, and Klingert, were on view. As early as 1886, the firm of Anton Kuzmichev (silversmiths and enamellers) was exporting to the United States and selling through Tiffany & Co, as was the Kornilov Brothers Porcelain Factory after 1884, which also exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The World's Fair held in St. Louis in 1904 included about six hundred paintings by contemporary Russian artists, apparently without much success, even though the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris had featured Faberge's work and had furthered the interest in Russian art abroad. Contemporary fascination with Faberge and with other forms of Russian art, especially the decorative arts, is not new. It had its genesis before the Revolution arid was actively fostered by the Tsarist government, which tried to create an export market. Similarly, the young Soviet government would later look to the West for hard currency to finance its needs.

During the post-Revolutionary period, a trading market and an interest in collecting began to develop both in America and in Europe. Dealers involved became the dominant force in introducing Faberge to the public. The primary traders in America, both in New York, were the Hammer Galleries from 1921, and Alexander Schaffer from the late 1920s. First individually and later as A La Vieille Russie, Schaffer used merchandise acquired in the Soviet Union to stimulate interest in Russian art among wealthy patrons who were attracted to the beauty of the art, sensitive to the tragedy of the Tsarist fall, and fascinated by its historical implications. The need for hard L currency was paramount in the Soviet Union, and sales of works i of art -were effected by various governmental agencies responsive to inexperienced ministers -who paid less attention to conserving the national heritage than to raising cash by selling the spoils of the aristocracy and the church to Western buyers.

Hammer and Schaffer purchased quantities of porcelain, icons, brocades, and memorabilia, as well as items in precious has been suggested that the government was mocking the capitalists to whom they were selling, but the officials involved were trying to help in the rebuilding of their country, and the result was a relatively steady supply of merchandise. Overall, works by Faberge, in addition to their artistic appeal, were important commercial items. As they were 'second-hand', barely being resold a decade or so after their manufacture, prices of objects were relatively reasonable. A merchant could buy quite a number of items for a modest sum and be assured of adequate stock.

Although it was not the main focus of the Soviet government, trade was active in Europe as well, with two previously established firms gaining new prominence by dealing in Faberge and Russian art. Those firms were Wartski, from 1925 in London (run then by Emanuel Snowman, and later by his son A. Kenneth Snowman), and A La Vieille Russie (run by Jacques Zolotnitzky and his nephew Leon Grinberg), -which resettled in Paris around 1920 from Kiev. Zolotnitzky and Grinberg worked closely with Alexander Schaffer, who spent much time in Paris between the -wars, eventually becoming partners. They began supplying Schaffer, as -well as others, with Faberge objects mostly purchased in the emigration. Through the hands of these four merchants, two in America and two in Europe, passed virtually all the important pieces which today are in major collections around the world.

Sales records 6f the post-Revolutionary period are sketchy, but a whole garden of Faberge flowers or a menagerie of animals might be sold for $135 to $600 each. Silver items, except for the larger and more elaborate examples, were purchased by weight and were offered at reasonable prices. Gold and enamel picture frames could be had for $95 to $350, handles and clocks for around $65, a buckle for $15, a lorgnette in its original case for $67.50, and miniature eggs (those by Faberge and others were similarly priced) sold for around $30 each. Also available were Gardner plates of the Order of St. Vladimir for $35 each, and a dozen cloisonne enamel spoons for $60 per set. Porcelain eggs with the monogram of Alexandra Feodorovna, now selling for $1500, were boxed and offered as gifts to favoured clients at Easter, and, as Faberge had done, the brass and copper ashtrays manufactured during World War were also offered as gifts. Specific examples of more important pieces with the price history follow: circula: blue enamel presentation box with the monogram of Nichola: II (ALVR 1983, no. 218; cat. 101) was purchased in 1923 foi $250, sold in 1930 for around $700, and resold in 1979 foi $42,800; the twelve-panel pink enamel Easter egg now in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen (cat. 185) was sold in 1933 for around $850; the Coronation box (The FORBES Magazine Collection; cat. 105) was sold in 1937 for around $1700, with a profit of around $350; the rich mujik (Victoria and Albert Museum 1977, no. N 5) was sold in 1937 for $950, with a $200 profit; and a red enamel cigarette case (ALVR 1983, no. 118) was purchased in the mid-1930s for $54 and sold in 1975 for around $8000. Also illustrative are the deals not done: a smoky topaz vase (Helen B. Sanders Bequest, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; ALVR 1983, no. 309) was turned down by A La Vieille Russie in 1938 when it was offered for $1350, and the cloisonne enamel tea set (Bainbridge 1966, pi. 36) was turned down in 1940 when offered by Faberge's son in Paris for $1500. Lest these prices seem low, it should be remembered that in spite of the Depression, they were quite high, as they had been in Faberge's time. A copy of the New York Times cost two cents, thirty-five cents bought lunch, and the Schaffers paid $150 a month rent for their gallery.

read more


Click Here to Buy Gifts&Souvenirs Derectly from Russia

Russia from All the Sides:

Welcom to the World of Faberge

Treasures of the World - Faberge Eggs

Welcom to the World of Faberge

Russia Art. Mezen Painting and Palekh

Russian Cuisine (Recipes, exchange board, English Translations for russian Herbs)

Russian Orthodox Church (History, Icon Painting, Church Music, Major Holidays)

Russian Folk Art

Best of Russia (History, Culture, Life, Royal Family, Major Cities)

Russian Collections (Icons, Folk Arts, Modern Art)

All About Vodka

Official Site of the Company Producing Stolichnaya Vodka

home faberge eggs watches icons Lace Khokhloma linen porcelain matryoshka toys samovars food