A Little History of the Fabergé Imperial Easter Egg
Tomorrow morning is Easter, so what better time to write about Easter eggs – and especially about a particularly nice Easter egg that traces its beginning all the way back to Tsarist Russia: the Fabergé Imperial Easter egg. You may have seen petite replicas of these little porcelain eggs or, who knows, maybe even own one?
In 1885, Tsar Alexander III wanted to surprise his wife, Empress Marie Federovna, with a special Easter egg to celebrate the anniversary of their engagement. So he commissioned Russian Jeweler and Goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé to create an egg inspired by one the empress knew from her childhood as a princess of Denmark’s royal court.
Fabergé created an egg completely made of gold and covered with opaque white enamel to make it look like real egg shell. The special thing about this egg is that it opens up to reveal several surprises. Inside the egg is a gold yolk that opens to reveal a gold hen with ruby eyes. The hen is hinged on the tail feathers which allows it to also open up to reveal two more surprises, a gold and diamond replica of the imperial crown and a tiny ruby pendant with necklace chain that the empress could wear. This egg became known as the Imperial Hen Egg. The empress was so delighted by the gift that it became a tradition for the Tsar to present her with a new Easter egg every year. Fabergé could pretty much design the egg the way he wanted to under one condition: each egg had to contain a surprise.
The Hen Egg is the first in a series of 50 eggs that Fabergé made for the Imperial family between 1885 and 1916. Today, 42 of the eggs are known to have survived the Russian Revolution and following turbulent times, but they’re scattered across many collections around the world. Only 10 remain at the Kremlin in Moscow.
Collectors, however, have a chance to obtain replicas of the famous Fabergé eggs even today. They are still being manufactured by the successor of the original House of Fabergé and can sometimes even find their way to Pawn America, like this replica of “Le Cirque Eléphant” or “Circus Elephant.”
The egg is handmade at the famous French porcelain manufactury in Limoges. Alternating triangles of gold, and white striped in gold, cover the surface of this egg. Open it up and see the surprise – an elephant studded with the tiniest crystals from trunk to tail. He is sitting on his haunches and his trunk is up– a sign of good luck! He has sparkling sapphire (?) eyes. The base and elephant are 24-karat gold-plated sterling silver, and the clasp is the Romanov double-headed eagle. Isn’t that cool? By the way, this particular Fabergé Easter egg is currently still available for sale at our Madison, Wisconsin, store.
Aside from that, next time you go shopping and are looking for a special gift, come on in and see if we can’t help you find a unique – and maybe collectible – item!