Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fabulous Faberge

Recently a large pink Faberge egg sold for $18 million at a Christie’s auction, setting a record for Faberge eggs. The new owners of the brand, Pallinghurst, Inc. are no doubt, extremely pleased with this price.

They hope to restore the company’s illustrious reputation which was tarnished during the seventies by some bad choices of perfumes and tacky diamond-encrusted jeans!
Already Faberge sales of the famous clocks and jewelry have increased greatly.
The new owners have the family’s approval and Pallinghurst, Inc. has appointed Tatiana and Sarah Faberge, the founder’s great-great granddaughters as advisors.

The famous Russian firm was begun by Gustav Faberge, a goldsmith, who immigrated to the country from France when Peter 1 invited goldsmiths, artists, and other skilled people to St.Petersburg. The Tsar wanted to make the city into a center for the arts and his ‘window to the West’.

It was Gustav’s son, Peter, who really founded the company’s fine reputation, however. He studied his art in Florence, London, and Paris, after completing his craftsman’s apprenticeship at a young age. When he returned to Russia he became friendly with the treasurer of the Winter Palace and started copying some of the collections there. Assisted by his brother, Agathon, who was a brilliant designer, he gradually became famous for his unusual techniques and craftsmanship. Faberge used brightly colored enamelling, gold and silver, precious stones and cabochons.

Peter Carl Faberge was so meticulous about the quality of the firm’s work that he smashed any piece that wasn’t up to his standards with a hammer!

Tsar Alexander III noticed copies of ancient jewelry made by the brothers at an exhibition and he was very impressed. Faberge soon became the Imperial goldsmith and silversmith, which increased its reputation greatly. I soon became the largest business of its type in Russia.

The Imperial family began the tradition of giving Faberge eggs as gifts at Easter in the same year (1885). The Tsar commissioned the family to create an egg for his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. Known as the ‘Hen Egg’ this had plain white enameling and a gold yolk holding a golden hen. They continued the tradition until 1916.

Other famous clients included the British royal family, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and the Rothschild’s. King Edward VII commissioned a miniature zoo for his beautiful wife, Alexandra.

The Russian Revolution led to the company’s sad decline. Some of the family attempted to continue their fine work from France but in 1951 an American corporation acquired the rights to the brand for only $25,000.00. The family couldn’t afford the expensive litigation required to retain the rights.

It is to be hoped that this company, with its distinguished history, can restore its fine reputation. Tatiana Faberge said in the firm’s Press Release about the historic reunification:

‘I have dreamed of
this moment for decades. It has been my life’s ambition
to restore the unsurpassed
standards of design and workmanship that characterised my
great-grandfather’s treasures. Now, finally, we have the basis
for fulfilling this ambition. I am very
pleased to be a part of one of the most significant developments
in Faberge’s history.

(NB:This is also on my old Orble blog.)

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