It’s an Easter Tale… Everything you need to know on Fabergé most coveted eggs in 5 questions
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What is a Fabergé Egg?
It is a piece of decorative art created by the House of Fabergé, a jewellery company founded in 1842 in Russia. Each egg took around a year to complete, contained a “surprise” within the highly decorated shell and was designed in secret, with not even the Tsar privy to its design until it was hand-delivered by Fabergé.
What is an Imperial Easter Egg?
These were the eggs commissioned by the Russian royal family. They would give them as Easter presents to each other and are the most elaborate of the eggs. There were only 50 made in total; 43 survived.
Which was the very first Imperial Egg?
The Hen Egg, made in 1885 and commissioned by Alexander III: a plain, white enamel egg just two and a half inches high. But inside the egg there was a “yolk” made of gold. Inside the yolk was a little golden hen. And inside the hen were two tiny gifts: a diamond miniature of the royal crown, and a tiny ruby egg pendant that could be hung on a necklace. Sadly, like many of the gifts inside the eggs, the crown and pendant went missing many years ago.
Who owns the 43 remaining Imperial eggs?
Because of their rarity, they are the ultimate collector’s object of desire. The Queen owns three Imperial Eggs as part of the Royal Collection. One is the Mosaic egg, commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, for Easter 1914. Inside the diamond and ruby-encrusted egg, is a miniature medallion painted on ivory with the portraits of the five children of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. It was purchased by King George V from Cameo Corner, London, on 22 May 1933 for only £250.
Most of the others are still in Russia. The largest owner is the Kremlin Armoury Museum in Moscow, which has 10. In 2004, Viktor Vekselberg, an oil and gas tycoon, paid $100m for nine imperial eggs. Many of the others are scattered around American museums, left as bequests by collectors. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has five Imperial eggs, donated by Lillian Thomas Pratt, wife of a wealthy American businessman.
I love Fabergé Eggs, can I get one?
Fabergé Imperial Eggs are very rare and only occassionally reappear the auction market – the last time an Imperial egg was sold was the long-lost Vacheron Constantin egg – sold for £20 million in 2013.
Today three imperial eggs are still missing, along with many of their “surprises”. In 2012A scrap metal dealer bought an ornament to be melted down for its gold – until he read a Telegraph article revealing it to be a £20 million Fabergé egg!
Also, Fabergé has also launched a series of miniature egg pendants and charms capturing the artistry and exuberance synonymous with Fabergé whilst offering a playful nod to the legendary Fabergé Imperial eggs.
Happy Easter Egg Hunt, everyone!