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The Mysterious Fate of the Romanov Family's Prized Easter Egg Collection

April 17, 2019 in History

By Ella Morton

After the Russian Revolution, the country’s new leaders, looking to make some quick rubles, started selling off the dazzling imperial treasures.

In 2010, an American scrap-metal dealer visited an antiques stall somewhere in the United States and purchased a golden egg sitting on a three-legged stand. The egg was adorned with diamonds and sapphires, and it opened to reveal a clock. Intending to sell the object to a buyer who would melt it down for its component metals, the dealer purchased this egg-clock for $13,302. He then had trouble selling it, as potential buyers deemed it overpriced.

The dealer had valued it incorrectly—but not the way he originally thought. In 2014, the man—who remains anonymous—discovered that his little golden objet d’art was one of the 50 exquisitely bespoke . No two were even slightly similar, and each contained a surprise meaningful to the recipient.

The Faberge Imperial Coronation Egg at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, 1993.

In 1897, Nicholas II gave his wife Alexandra the Imperial Coronation Egg. The shell is made of gold embellished with translucent yellow enamel and overlaid with black enamel double-headed eagles. Inside the white velvet-lined egg is an exquisitely detailed miniature 18th-century golden carriage. The object, which took more than a year to create, is a replica of a coach once owned by Catherine the Great and used in Nicholas and Alexandra’s own 1896 coronation procession.

The 1901 Gatchina Palace egg, which Nicholas II gave to his mother Maria Feodorovna, has a pearl-encrusted shell of gold, enamel, silver-gilt, portrait diamonds and rock crystal. It opens to reveal a faithful rendering of the palace Maria called home.

The Fabergé Gatchina Egg pictured on display in an exhibit, called ‘Palaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style’ at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion.

How the eggs fared after the Revolution

All was shiny and beautiful in the imperial palaces, but by the early 20th century, Nicholas II was contending with international conflicts, nationwide impoverishment, a population boom and a growing number of former serfs eager to overthrow a czar they saw as oppressive and out of touch. In 1904 and 1905, when Russia was at war with Japan, Nicholas suspended his annual Fabergé egg commission. He resumed the tradition in 1906, though, and had one delivered every Easter until 1917. That year, Fabergé worked on two eggs, but before they could be presented, the …read more


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