Luxury dental work: a Russian aristocrat's platinum and gold dentures made for her by Faberge
A rather unusual Faberge story made headlines this week. A mystery Russian noble woman's remains were found in a church near St. Petersburg. Her luxury dental work, platinum and gold dentures are believed to have been made by Faberge.Her identity remains a mystery and for now she is known as Lady X.
These are the first pictures of a female Russian aristocrat's bespoke dentures - made for her by Faberge from platinum and gold.
The mystery noble woman's remains were found in a church near St Petersburg during an archeological dig ahead of planned renovations - but it was the contents of her glinting jaw that astonished experts.
Her identity remains a puzzle and for now she is known only as Lady X.
She died aged between 50 and 60 in all probability in the opening years of the 20th century, before the Bolshevik Revolution engulfed her country, but scientists hope to be able to discover her real name with further research.
Her expensive tastes are already clear from what has been dubbed 'history's most jaw-dropping jaw'.
Professor Yury Molin, deputy head of the Bureau of Medical Forensic Examination for Leningrad region, said: 'We were about to finish our work when one member of our team assistant professor Alexander Gorshkov shouted: 'Yury, come here! Look what I've found!''
Buried: deformed lead sarcophagus where Lady X's remains were found
His excited voiced echoed through tumbledown Taitsy village church, badly damaged during fighting in the Second World War, and dedicated to Othodox saint Alexander Nevsky.
'He was holding a skull. After removing the mud, we immediately spotted a shiny denture in the upper jaw, obviously not a simple one but made from precious metals.
'Spectral and dental expertise proved it was a unique denture, produced around the beginning of the 20th century from gold and platinum by the Karl Faberge company.'
Dental experts from St Petersburg State Pavlov Medical University established that 'this denture is a high quality product made by jewellery dental prosthetic manufactory of the Karl Faberge Merchant House, which was based in dental department of Obukhovskaya hospital' in St Petersburg, then the capital of tsarist Russia.
'Multi-layer china dentures were produced in Germany and supplied to Russia from the middle of 19th century until the time of the First World War.
'The mixture of metals in the denture - a high alloy of platinum with silver and copper in the dental plate, and a high alloy of gold with platinum and copper in the denture clasps, points to the fact that it was produced at the end of 19th or beginning of 20th century'.
This is because before 1891 a mixture of gold and iridium was used for clasps in Russia.'
'We quickly realised the skull belongs to a noble woman,' said Professor Molin, who was called in by local Orthodox priest Mikhail Vinogradov.
'But we have not found anything about her in the archives yet. This is why we call her Lady X.
'Maybe she was from the Beloselsky-Belozersky or Lopukhin families, or from some other noble and well known family in this area.
'We have very good hopes of identifying Lady X. I believe there could be just a couple of dozen women at the time who could have afforded such a denture.
'Unfortunately, her skull was in a bad condition and almost fell into pieces in our hands, so we have little chance to reconstruct her face and compare with existing portraits which is often helpful. Still, we do not lose a hope and will continue working to identify her from material in the archives.'
Other remains dug up from the historic church have been identified as members of the Demidov family - a rich noble family from the Urals who were much earlier close to Peter the Great.
Archive evidence backed by DNA shows that the skeletons were those of Petr Demidov, his wife Elizaveta Bezobrazova and their 12-year-old son.
A surviving button on the boy's clothing shows he was a military cadet in the mid-19th century.
The church records were lost perhaps during the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the area were later overrun by the Nazis.
'We found four graves, some of them were partly open and, unfortunately, destroyed,' said the professor.
'There were a lot of German bullets and helmets around. But we can't exclude the possibility that the graves were touched before the second world war.
'There is also the fifth grave there but it is well protected with concrete cover and we have not examined it yet.'
The priest hopes that the unusual find in the church will lead to discovery of the identity of Lady X and help to raise funds for a full-scale renovation of the historic building which was badly damaged by German shooting during the Second World War.
Archeologists also found frescoes, old clothes and utensils.
Uncovered: the Orthodox church in Taitsy village, near St. Petersburg where the dentures were discovered
The church was associated with the Demidov family but it is not clear that Lady X was directly linked to this noble line.
The 63 year old professor waited before announcing the denture discovery until the bodies had been reburied in keeping with a request from priest Vonogradov.
'This denture was found quite a while ago but the Orthodox priest allowed us to make it public only now, when the process of second burial of the identified bodies was over,' he said.
'The local church wanted to do it the proper way - they found Demidov family descendents in Finland, invited them, and held the second funeral in the church.
'The denture was found in early December 2011. We were invited to come for a full working day to work at the scene.
'It was at the end of this working day that we spotted this amazing denture.
'Let me stress, you must call it a unique discovery. In 40 years of my expert experience, I have never come across anything like this - a full size denture.
'Tooth crowns were found before, this is not a surprise, but a full size precious denture is purely a stroke of luck.
'We are proud to tell about our work now. There is no doubt this denture belongs to Karl Faberge company, we showed it to an elderly expert who studied Faberge dentures - and a few matching dentures can be found in museums.'
The dentures from the village church do not carry the Faberge imprint, possibly because the were chipped. But he is entirely confident they are the genuine article.
'Lady X is not identified yet but we are still hopeful.
'She is re-buried now too but in a sort of temporary grave, but her remains may be removed any moment so we can access the body again. '
© The Daily Mail. 11 July, 2013