When 110 items from the ‘lost inheritance’ of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the sister-in-law of Tsar Alexander III came under the hammer at Sotheby’s recently, despite a downturn in the market, items sold in some cases fetching ten times their lowest estimates.
The sale entitled: Romanov Heirlooms: The Lost Inheritance of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna sold every lot for a total of £5.83m. It was not only the intrinsic value of the pieces but the romance of the link to the Romanovs that had the salesroom buzzing and cranked up the prices. The highest amount paid at the auction was for a Fabergé bejewelled four colour gold cigarette case, a 25th wedding anniversary present to the Grand Duchess and her husband, made in 1899, which sold to an American buyer for £510,000.
Often on the Antiques Roadshow it is antique jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn who gets everyone’s hearts racing as he handles small rather innocent looking pieces of jewellery and objet d’art. One of his best finds was an enamelled pink brooch with what looked like a rock crystal chip on the corner, which he pronounced to be Fabergé and priced at £10,000.
Other plain but beautifully coloured chased enamelled silver boxes have also appeared on the Roadshow, so typical of what we come to expect from the understated elegance of Fabergé, jeweller to the Russian nobility. The joy of these small items is that they could just as easily be found in a box of costume jewellery at an antique furniture emporium in Lancashire or Cheshire as in the salesroom at Sotheby’s which only adds to their delight.
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