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Wonderful World 18 - Russia

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For me writing about Russia for our Limoges catalog is more fun than anything.  I write about Russia all of the time for our Fabergé Catalog and here I get to write about both!  It is the best of both worlds!  I love that the French are doing things Russian and, of course, I have told you  that some of the Fabergé pieces are made in Limoges so there is a real joining of interests here. But what is nicest of all is that all of my begging and pleading for new travel boxes has begun to pay off.  The three boxes shown here are distinctly Russian in inspiration as you will see reading the text and all are new to the world of Limoges in this year 2006.

A. The St. Basil’s Cathedral Box.  From one of our best makers comes this wonderful Limoges version of a piece made by Fabergé today. At the end of the information about this piece you will find a click spot that will take you to the same page in the Faberge The Perfect Gift Catalog so you can see the original piece that inspired the making of this box.  (The following paragraphs are shown just as they appear in the Fabergé Catalog.)

“Saint Basil's Cathedral, as it is commonly known (its actual name is "The Cathedral of The Intercession of the Virgin on The Moat"), stands on the edge of Red Square, in the heart of Moscow. Built on the site of the earlier Trinity Cathedral by order of Ivan The Terrible, it was constructed between 1555 and 1561 to commemorate Ivan's successful military campaign against the Tartar Mongols in 1552. The Cathedral, which physically looks like no other Cathedral you've ever seen, has nine chapels each representing a battle won and each distinctively crowned with a variation of an onion dome brilliantly patterned and colored. The design so appealed to the Tsar that he that he forbid the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, to ever build anything more beautiful than the Cathedral and then, to be certain that his will would be done, he put out the eyes of Mr. Yakovlev! Or at least that's how the story goes. A moniker such as "The Terrible" doesn't attach itself to a person without good reason.

The church's design, filled with deep religious symbolism, was meant to be an architectural representation of New Jerusalem, the heavenly kingdom described in the Book of Revelation of St. John the Divine. The eight onion domes are positioned around a ninth spire forming an eight pointed star. The number eight denotes the day of Christ's Resurrection and also carries several other deeply religious meanings.

One thing that is particularly interesting is that Red Square predates Communist Russia by hundreds of years. Although much of the Cathedral is built of red stone, that was not the reason for the name either. It was named Red Square because in Russian the word for beautiful is the same word as the word for red, 'krasnoya' and it relates to the beauty of the Cathedral.”

The only thing to be added to the description is that this tiny box opens and has a Fabergé Egg (The Kelkh Pine Cone Egg) painted inside and the clasp is a star. Retail: $275.00.  Our price: $249.90.  An extraordinary box that every travel collection should include.

click here to see the original of this piece.

click here to see the Kelkh Pine Cone Egg.

B. The Basket of Fabergé Easter Eggs Box.  In Russia Easter is the the most important holiday of the year.  They celebrate it as a nation just as we celebrate Christmas.  Their custom is the giving of Easter Eggs for gifts and for many Russians these are often real eggs painted and/or decorated just as we do them for Easter but for the wealthy and members of the royal family
in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Peter Carl Faberge provided the eggs and they were a far cry from the usual Easter Egg.  

The Imperial Easter Eggs which were the first eggs made by Fabergé were all made from precious metals and the finest quality diamonds, rubies and emeralds etc.  But what they were made of was not the salient fact.  Most important about them was that they were completely unique.  Nothing like them had ever been made before and no one has succeeded in making anything even approaching them since.  He made only 50 of them and there are only 42 that have survived.  The others were lost in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Almost all of those eggs today are in museums with only a very few in private hands and to give you some idea of their value today, when the Forbes Collection sold in 2004, the experts at Sotheby’s in New York valued the eggs in the collection at $24,000,000.00 each.

The making of the Imperial Eggs and the enormous success they enjoyed inspired Fabergé to create tiny versions of them to be worn on chains and/or bracelets  and it is these small eggs that are grouped in this Easter Egg Basket Box.  He made hundreds of different eggs, never duplicating even one and the ladies loved them and wore them and it quickly became very fashionable in Moscow and St. Petersburg for women to wear them, sometimes wearing as many as 10 on a charm bracelet.  It would have been natural for the ladies to store them in a pretty basket such as the one shown here when they were not being worn.  The box has a rose for the clasp and nothing of consequence inside.  Retail: $243.00.  Our price: $218.90.

to see some of these little eggs and the Limoges boxes that Fabergé today provides for their storage click here.

C.  The Sedan Chair Box.
Sedan Chairs were a form of transportation used by the very wealthy and by nobility  in several countries of Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.  They were carried by servants and were meant to relieve some of the carriage traffic that clogged the streets in major cities in Europe.

The Limoges Box Sedan Chair is painted white with gold detail.  Its window curtains are of deep blue and there are  gold heraldic devices on three of the Chair surfaces. Inside a seated female passenger is dressed in red.  The carrying poles extending from the passenger cabinet were the means by which servants transported them.

I am quite certain that this particular Limoges Box has a raison d’etre greater than that of just being a newly designed Limoges Box. In 1914  The House of Fabergé had created The Grisaille Egg as the Easter gift for Tsar Nicholas II to present to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna. As each Egg did, it contained a surprise, this one being a miniature Sedan Chair and what follows is the Empress’ own partial description of the surprise.

Dated  April 8, 1914
--- He (Tsar Nicholas II) wrote me a most charming letter and presented me with a most beautiful Easter Egg. Fabergé brought it to me himself.  It is a true chef d’oeuvre  in pink enamel and inside a porte chaise  with Empress Catherine in it  ---  *

*Tatiana Faberge’s definitive work “The Fabergé Imperial Easter Eggs” describes the Grisaille Egg in detail and displays a photograph of the porte chaise. It can immediately be seen that there is a distinct resemblance between our Sedan Chair and the “porte chaise” described as the surprise and that the Empress Catherine, seated in the chair, is indeed wearing red.

In any case, now you know a little more about Sedan Chairs and possibly more than you want to know about Fabergé Eggs.
Our price: $224.90.

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