Peter Carl Fabergé became
enamored of hardstone carvings after having
seen an exhibition of Japanese toggles sometime
in the 1870's. He was so delighted by them that
he started collecting them and he gradually
acquired a collection of some 500 hand carved
hardstone animals all created by Japanese sculptors
(It is often the case that one artist is inspired
by another, witness the collection of Japanese
art at Giverny, Monet's home. Several of the
Impressionists collected Japanese art: Van Gogh
and Renoir to name two.).
By 1890 he had started creating animal carvings
often with gold legs or beaks and always in
semi-precious stones, rock crystal, aventurine,
jade, nephrite, bowenite, jasper, agate and
others, all of which were found in the Ural
Mountains of Russia. These became highly fashionable
collectibles when the Queen of England started
her collection which today is part of The Queen's
Collection at Buckingham Palace. Fabergé
has elected to do some of these hand carved
animals in miniature form using them as the
surprises in the new group called Menagerie
The Menagerie Eggs are done in enamel guilloché,
standing on a gold tripod with a stretcher bar
that features the Romanov Double Eagle in relief.
All of the metal is gold plated sterling silver;
all of the Eggs are lined in velvet; all of
the animals have diamond eyes set in gold bezels
and most of them have tiny gold plates on their
bottoms signed Fabergé and numbered.
All of the Eggs carry Fabergé stamped
into the gold. The animals are about 1 inch
tall + or - depending on the animal.
Click on any image for a larger version:
*The historical material for
this segment came from an article written by
Arch Duke Géza von Hapsburg, PhD. - Artistic
Director of The Fabergé Company and a
ranking world authority on Peter Carl Fabergé.
In the article he tells an amusing story about
how the Queen of England started collecting
Hardstone Animals. In 1907 a Mrs. Keppel, mistress
to King Edward VII, suggested to the King that
he present his 'long-suffering spouse'
some of these Hardstone Animals that related
to her pet animals in the Sandringham Zoo**.
He did and she was enchanted with them leading
to what today is a collection of 300 plus of
these Hardstone Animal figures.
**Sandringham is a royal
estate in Norfolk County, England, purchased
for King Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales.
Sandringham Zoo was on the estate and was a
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