Fabergé Eggs

The “Fifteenth Anniversary Egg,” which commemorates the coronation of Nicholas II on 26 May 1896, was presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his wife Tsarita Alexandra Feodorovna on the Easter of 1911.

The “Fifteenth Anniversary Egg,” which commemorates the coronation of Nicholas II on 26 May 1896, was presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his wife Tsarita Alexandra Feodorovna on the Easter of 1911.

Fabergé pieces are admired the world over as some of the most valuable royal treasures and exceptional examples of jewelry-work in existence. My interest in them was recently piqued when I came across a book about Fabergé in a secondhand book store.

I had always thought that fabergé was a type of material technique, such as cloissoné, and that it had been most famously used to make eggs for the royal family of Russia right before the Russian Revolution.

Discovering how off-base I was about the meaning of the term led me to do a little research, and once I started, I couldn’t stop! The unbelievable workmanship is truly astonishing, and thanks to the prolific output of the Fabergé workshop, there is an abundance of beauty to behold.

Fabergé is actually the last name of a family of jewelers who established the firm House of Fabergé in 1842. Peter Carl Fabergé (also known as Karl Gustavovich Fabergé) took over the business from his father, Gustav, in 1882. Shortly after, the firm was commissioned to create the Imperial eggs that brought them lasting fame.

Beginning in 1885, the so-called “Imperial” eggs were a standing order of Tsar Nicholas II, who presented one to both his wife and his mother every year.

Although as many as 69 eggs are rumored to have been created, many have been lost. The whereabouts of 57 are currently known.

Here’s a selection of some of my favorites…

The Renaissance Egg, 1894.

The Renaissance Egg, 1894.

The Coronation Egg, made to commemorate the coronation of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1897.

The Coronation Egg, made to commemorate the coronation of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1897.

Another angle of the Coronation Egg. Image from the Fabergé Museum.

Another angle of the Coronation Egg. Image from the Fabergé Museum.

Cockerel Egg, given by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother Empress Maria Feodoronova in 1900.

Cockerel Egg, given by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother Empress Maria Feodoronova in 1900.

Gatchina Palace Egg, image from the Walters Art Museum. Made in 1901 for the Dowager Empress Maria Feodoronova, the egg contains a miniature model of Gatchina Palace—the Empress’s residence outside Saint Petersburg—rendered in gold.

Gatchina Palace Egg, image from the Walters Art Museum. Made in 1901 for the Dowager Empress Maria Feodoronova, the egg contains a miniature model of Gatchina Palace—the Empress’s residence outside Saint Petersburg—rendered in gold.

The Peter the Great Egg commemorates the bicentennial of St. Petersburg, which was founded in 1703 during the Great Northern War by Peter the Great.

The Peter the Great Egg commemorates the bicentennial of St. Petersburg, which was founded in 1703 during the Great Northern War by Peter the Great.

The Rose Trellis Egg, 1907. Image from the Walters Art Museum.

The Rose Trellis Egg, 1907. Image from the Walters Art Museum.

The Bay Tree Easter Egg is the counterpart to the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg and was presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother the Easter of 1911. This image displays the egg with its top open, revealing a songbird that animates and sings.

The Bay Tree Easter Egg is the counterpart to the Fifteenth Anniversary Egg and was presented by Tsar Nicholas II to his mother the Easter of 1911. This image displays the egg with its top open, revealing a songbird that animates and sings.

Nicholas II’s son, Alexei, had hemophilia and nearly died from it in 1912. The Tsesarevich Easter Egg was commissioned to celebrate his victory over the illness after the worrisome year.

Nicholas II’s son, Alexei, had hemophilia and nearly died from it in 1912. The Tsesarevich Easter Egg was commissioned to celebrate his victory over the illness after the worrisome year.

The Catherine the Great Egg also known as ‘Grisaille Egg’ and ‘Pink Cameo’ Egg, 1914.

The Catherine the Great Egg also known as ‘Grisaille Egg’ and ‘Pink Cameo’ Egg, 1914.

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The Mosaic imperial egg, 1914, image from the Royal Collection Trust. This egg was the counterpart to the Catherine the Great Egg, and was presented to Tsarita Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Mosaic imperial egg, 1914, image from the Royal Collection Trust. This egg was the counterpart to the Catherine the Great Egg, and was presented to Tsarita Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Order of St. George Egg was made to honor the prestigious military recognition that Alexei received during World War I, and was the last egg ever received by the Dowager Empress.

The Order of St. George Egg was made to honor the prestigious military recognition that Alexei received during World War I, and was the last egg ever received by the Dowager Empress.

I love this quote from Fabergé expert Kieran McCarthy: “Their daily lives were lived at such a height of luxury that you couldn't really excite them with anything of intrinsic value. It was always about the craftsmanship. This is what that object is about, this craftsmanship and demonstration of skill.”

The Duchess of Marlborough Egg, also known as the Pink Serpent Egg, is the only Fabergé egg to have been commissioned by an American. The Duchess had it commissioned after seeing Fabergé eggs during a visit to the Anichkov Palace in 1902.

The Duchess of Marlborough Egg, also known as the Pink Serpent Egg, is the only Fabergé egg to have been commissioned by an American. The Duchess had it commissioned after seeing Fabergé eggs during a visit to the Anichkov Palace in 1902.

It’s also good to remember that Fabergé made more than just eggs! Here are just a couple of beauties to give a sampler…

A pictorial spoon by Fabergé.

A pictorial spoon by Fabergé.

Fabergé frame.

Fabergé frame.

Who else hopes they find all the “missing” eggs so we have even more to ogle?