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The Menagerie Egg Collection

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 Eggs.*

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 private Zoo.

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