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Wednesday, 3 December 2014
Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain to be Auctioned in Toronto
Topic: Auctions

Photo © Waddingtons
An extremely rare set of 12 Russian Imperial Porcelain dinner plates bearing the royal cyphers of both Alexander III and Nicholas II will be auctioned in Toronto at Waddington's on December 9, 2014.

Commissioned for the Alexander Palace in 1883, the 'Raphael Service' was the most expensive and considered one of the greatest achievements of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

William Kime, Senior Specialist Decorative Arts at Waddington's, says, "This 12-piece set has been referred to as 'the stuff of legends'. To my knowledge, no other set of 12 plates has ever been offered." Kime added, "What makes the plates so rare and extraordinary is that they remained together, and are in such good condition."

The story behind the exquisite dinner service is as dramatic as the Russian Imperial family itself.  The design was based on the Raphael Loggia murals in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which were ordered created by Empress Catherine the Great in the 1780s, based on the Raphael frescoes of the Vatican loggia.  Production was personally overseen by Czar Alexander III and took 20 years to complete. As new items for the service were completed, they were presented to the Emperor every year as Christmas gifts.

The set of 12 plates was sold in 1947 by Wartski (British antique and jewellery dealers specialising in Russian works of art, founded in 1865) and never seen again, until consigned to the Toronto auction house this year.

Contained in its original brass-bound mahogany box, in excellent condition. Pre-sale estimate is set at $120,000 – 150,000.

Lot 111


with central red ground hexagonal panels painted en grisaille with classical subjects, the cavettos with gilt Greek key and cream ground borders painted with winged animals, the rims with three interjections, six grey ground panels of grotesqueries and three red ground medallions with figures, all within gilt surrounds on a foliate bordered celadon green ground, the edges and basal rims all gilt, contained in their original brass-bound mahogany case, diameter 9.5" — 24.2 cm., painted crowned ciphers and dated in red and gilt. 
© Waddingtons. 03 December, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 3 December 2014 5:29 AM EST
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Thursday, 27 November 2014
Christie's to Auction Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
Topic: Auctions

Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, née Princess Charlotte of Prussia, in an ermine-lined red mantle, in a park landscape.
Artist: Christina Robertson (1796-1854). Photo: Christie’s London
Christie’s in London will present a superb collection of French paintings and decorative arts in Un Moment de Perfection: An Important Private Collection of French 18th Century Furniture and Old Master Paintings on 3 December 2014. 

Among the collection will be a three-quarter length Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, (née Princess Charlotte of Prussia) by Scottish born Christina Robertson (estimate: £ 30,000 - 50,000). Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860) was the wife of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), and mother of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881).

Little is known about Christina Robertson’s early life. She was born in Fife, Scotland, and it is believed that she trained with her uncle, George Sanders, a successful miniaturist. In 1823 she married James Robertson, also a painter, and together they relocated to London from where she sent pictures to exhibitions at the Royal Academies in London and Edinburgh regularly. During this time interest in her work increased, and among her distinguished patrons were the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, the Countess of Sheffield, Lord Powerscourt and Viscountess Barrington. 

After 1830 her circle of patrons had widened to include more international names such as Rothschild, Monte Bello, Zuvadovsky and Pototski, which must have influenced her decision to travel to St Petersburg in 1839, where she remained until 1841, returning again between 1849 until her death in 1854. Her connections on arrival must have been so significant that her first sitters included members of Tzar Nicholas I’s family, and the records of the Ministry of the Imperial Court state that in 1840 the artist had her own room in the Palace of Peterhof to use as a studio. In 1841 portraits of the Empress and her three daughters were included in an exhibition at the Imperial Academy in St Petersburg, and Count Buturlin commented later in his memoirs that among the most popular paintings exhibited that year were those by the ‘English lady Mrs Robertson, who has been stealing all commissions away from her colleagues. It became extremely fashionably among the nobility of Petersburg for two of three years to be painted by this foreign artist, who charged fabulous prices for her portraits’ (Russian Archives, Moscow, 1901, Book 3, p. 451, quoted in E. Renne, ‘A British Portraitist in Imperial Russia: Christina Robertson and the court of Nicholas I’, Apollo, September 1995, p. 45). 

Robertson painted a number of portraits of the Empress, each in different settings, and with her sitter wearing a variety of dress. The first known portrait must have been executed before 1846 as it was published as an engraving that year. The present portrait illustrates Robertson’s skill in carefully rendering different textures of fabric from the delicate lace framing the sitter’s face to the velvet robe trimmed with fur. The picturesque composition shows the influences that Robertson drew from books of etchings by Rigaud and Reynolds that she borrowed from the Hermitage Library. Other examples of Robertson’s portraits of the Empress can be found in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; the Museum of Arts, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the Pavlovsk Palace Museum near St Petersburg; and the Alupka Palace Museum, Crimea.

She is buried in St Petersburg in the Volkhov Lutheran cemetery, and the largest collection of her work remains in the Portrait Gallery of the Romanov Dynasty of the State Hermitage Museum.
For more information on the Portrait Gallery of the Romanov Dynasty, please refer to the following link:

A Russian Moment 26 - Portrait Gallery of the Romanov Dynasty, State Hermitage Museum

© Christie’s and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:36 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2014 11:42 AM EST
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Monday, 3 November 2014
Sotheby's Geneva to Auction Romanov Diamond Pendant
Topic: Auctions

In a press release Sotheby’s has announced the holding of its much-awaited Geneva autumn sale of Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The auction that will be held in three sessions will feature a total of 470 lots expected to achieve a total sale value in excess of US$62 million, a target that would be easily surpassed given the array of exceptional jewels on offer at the auctions from a renowned private collection, as well as jewels with an ancient historic provenance and also a selection of signed and period jewels and jewels featuring stunning diamonds, coloured diamonds and coloured gemstones, that will no doubt appeal to international connoisseurs and collectors of rare jewels.

One lot with a clear-cut royal provenance that will interest Romanov enthusiasts is lot 368 – The English Rose Diamond Pendant, once the property of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). The pendant designed around year 1876, in the shape of a rose, has its center set with a pear-shaped diamond, surrounded by two rows of five petals each, set with cushion-shaped single-cut and rose-cut diamonds. Queen Victoria gave the pendant as a gift to her grand-daughter Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1876-1936) on the occasion of her christening in 1876. Princess Victoria Melita married her lover and maternal first cousin Grand Duke Kirill Vladmirovich of Russia in 1905 after divorcing her first husband Grand Duke of Hesse Ernest Louis in 1901. The couple were initially banished from Russia and settled in Paris, but were allowed to return to Russia in 1910, where the princess came to be known as Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. They had three children, two daughters and a son. The English Rose Diamond Pendant was inherited by the second daughter Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (1909 – 1967) who married Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia. A moderate pre-sale estimate of US$52,000 – $73,000 is placed on the English Rose Pendant, which no doubt would sell for a much enhanced price given the clear-cut royal historical provenance. 
© Sotheby's and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 03 November, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:16 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 3 November 2014 3:18 PM EST
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Monday, 27 October 2014
Auction: Rare Morozov Silver Bust of Emperor Nicholas I
Topic: Auctions

Photo Courtesy: Aspire Auctions
Aspire Auctions in the United States, are offering a unique silver bust of Emperor Nicholas I (1825-1855). Portrayed in military uniform and helmet with double headed crowned Imperial Eagle and attached to a silver socle. Front plate with "Nicolas I" in Cyrillic. With maker's hallmark "Morozov" in Cyrillic with Imperial Warrant of double headed Imperial Eagle to the right, city mark for St. Petersburg, and assay mark for Aleksandr Timofeyevich Shevyakov (1895-1898) and "84, 1896" underneath. Weighs 49.92 toz.

The silver casting was made by Morozov, the chief rival to Carl Faberge, also possessed the Imperial Warrant to supply items to the Imperial Court. This is symbolized by the Imperial Eagle on the hallmark of the bust. Ivan Ekimovich Morozov founded an important firm of jewellers and court purveyors "I.E.Morozov" in 1849 which remained in existence till 1917. Friedrich August Theodor Dietrich (German, 1817-1903) was born in Bojanovo (Posen), studied under Drake, Rauch, Tieck and others in Berlin. In 1856 modeled bronze statuettes of the Russian Tzar Nicolas I and the Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm IV.

This item is estimated $2,500-$5,000. The lot will close this Thursday October 30th. 
© Aspire Auctions. 27 October, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:30 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2014 3:48 PM EDT
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Thursday, 22 May 2014
Bonhams to Auction Silver Dishes from the Table of Catherine the Great
Topic: Auctions

Catherine the Great: an important pair of Louis XVI silver circular dish covers (cloches) and dishes from the Ekaterinoslav and Moscow services.
Covers by Robert-Joseph Auguste, Paris 1782-83, dishes by Louis-Joseph Lenhendrick, Paris 1777-78. Photo © Bonhams
Two spectacular silver vegetable dishes from dinner services used by the 18th century Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, are to be sold at Bonhams Fine Silver and Gold Boxes sale in London on 18 June. They are estimated at £30,000-50,000 for the pair, the auction house said in a press release.

The vegetable dishes are among the survivors of the 22 silver table services ordered by Her Imperial Majesty for the new seats of regional government which she established in Russia. She wanted each centre of government to have a complete service of its own to avoid the need to transport silver from place to place during her tours of the country. Catherine ordered five services from Russian silversmiths but the others were commissioned from artisans in London, Augsburg and Paris. Four of the French-made services employed the talents of the greatest silversmith of the 18th century, Robert-Joseph Auguste. He was involved in sets for Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny-Novgorod and Ekaterinoslav, later known as Ekaterinburg where the Imperial Family was murdered in 1918.

The two vegetable dishes in the sale represent a mystery. Although they look perfectly matched, in fact the ornate covers are from the service made by Auguste for Moscow while the dishes themselves are from the Ekaterinoslav service made by one of his colleagues, Louis Lenhendrick. Exactly the same mismatch of dish and cover is found in the silver vegetable dishes from the same makers and services in the collection of the Louvre in Paris.


Catherine the Great's desire for monumental and extensive table services as an expression of her wealth and her appreciation of western taste is most spectacularly shown in the famous Orloff Service by Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers. Various tureens and plates from this service were in the collection of Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and sold in 1992; for examples of gold boxes from this collection, see lots 1, 2 and 31. From 1776, Catherine's agents ordered twenty-two further services for the Gubernatorial capitals newly created in her reorganisation of the administration of the Russian Empire. Five were from Russian silversmiths and the rest from outside the empire: Paris, London and Augsburg. In Paris, they turned to Roettiers successor Robert-Joseph Auguste, for four; Ekaterinoslav (1776-1778), Kazan (1778), Nijni-Novgorod (1778-1779) and Moscow (1782-1783). For the former, Auguste had to enlist the aid of Louis-Joseph Lenhendrick, who had collaborated on the Orloff Service.

Robert-Joseph Auguste (1723ca.-1805) was a sculptor and royal goldsmith to Louis XV and Louis XVI of France, whose coronation crown he made. Unusually for the time, Auguste appears to have worked outside the normal guild system; he was made master in 1757 but very little of his production of the next ten years still exists, five gold boxes through the 1760's. The recall of plate during the reign of Louis XVI means that little of Auguste's work made for French patrons survives, however we are fortunate that he had magnificent orders from foreign courts including Count de Creutz, a Swedish Ambassador, King George III and Catherine the Great. Auguste was an excellent exponent of the new Neoclassical style, radically different to the flamboyant and naturalistic Rococo that had passed in the middle of the century and an evolution of the Classical style; with fewer references to architectural forms. The designs of the services show a little more restraint than that for the Sachsen-Teschen Tureen by Jacob Ignatz Wurth sold in these rooms on 13 June 2013, ex lot 151.

The services were re-called to St Petersburg on Catherine's death by her successor, Tsar Paul the First. The next full published assessment of the remnants is by Baron A de Foelkersam, in 1907. Sadly his detail for the present services is not as extensive as for the Orloff service, but he does include the bill for Moscow service: 232,200 livres (including commission) for 2351 marks (18,808oz) of silver. He also provides a tally of pieces that were melted for bullion through the 19th century.

In the aftermath of the Revolution, the new Soviet Government sold some of the remnants of the services along with other treasures from the Imperial collections. Jacques Helft recounts: "It was during this same year [1926] that I secured from the Trade Representatives of the USSR at Berlin, a large consignment of French Goldsmiths' work," which included the Orloff table service (Helft, p.29). 

It is possible that the present lot came from this consignment, as is suggested by evidence from the ledgers in the archives of Helft's client, Count Moise Nissim Camondo, published by Sylvie Legrand-Rossi. In July 1929, Moïse de Camondo bought from Helft, for 250 000 francs a pair of rectangular tureens by Auguste (1782) and a pair of round tureen covers by the same maker and date and two round plates by Louis-Joseph Lenhendrick (1777). In November of the following year, Camondo exchanged the latter pair and 40 000 francs for a second pair of the rectangular tureens (Les Arts Décoratifs, musée Nissim de Camondo, inv. CAM 256 and 257). Further, Helft had, the year before, given to the Louvre a dish and cover with the identical combination (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, don Jacques et Yvon Helft, 1928, inv. 26750 and 26751). It is also possible that the present lot are two of four tureens illustrated in a photograph of a showcase of Auguste's work in the 1926 Louvre, L'exposition d'Orfèvrie Française Civile. The cloches were purchased, in Paris, by the present owner's parents.

Helft gives a clue as to why the dispersal of the Imperial silver took so long: "I had dazzling hopes of success when my clients should come to inspect all these wonders; but as it happened the reception was guarded and cool." p. 29. Indeed, in 1942, after he had been forced to move to New York, he was still offering the Orloff Dish Covers and Moscow verrières sold to Ortiz Patiño, see plate 5.

At first glance the covers and dishes sit well together, despite the difference in dates and makers, probably because Auguste and Lenhendrick cooperated on the Ekaterinoslav service. The dishes can easily be assigned to this service with their prickdot engraved "EK2," as well as their date and maker. The covers must come from the Moscow service with their continuous bands of shallow flutes around the side rather than being separated into four panels, see illustration.

The numbering of the pieces is somewhat unexpected and may have been added later by the Hermitage; it appears to be by type of dish or cover rather than to keep covers and bases together. The present lots are incuse stamped "2" on both dishes and covers. The two pairs of rectangular compotiers and covers from the Moscow Service in the Musée Nissim de Camondo each have 1 to the base and 3 to the cloche. Other platters and plates sold recently have been marked "EK1," whilst the dessert plates from Ortiz Patiño Collection were marked "No3." This eccentricity may give a hint as to how the covers and bases became mixed either whilst in the Imperial Collection or at the point of sale by the Soviets. 
© Russkiy Mir and Bonhams (London). 22 May, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:31 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 23 May 2014 11:47 AM EDT
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Monday, 24 March 2014
Stranded Dowager Empress - Cigarette Case Comes up for Sale
Topic: Auctions

Photo: Tennants Auctioneers
In August 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, the Russian Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna  was refused permission by the Kaiser to continue her journey to her homeland of Russia. The Empress had been in England visiting her Brother-in-Law and Sister, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, when war was declared. She rushed to travel home in the Imperial Russian train but on arrival at Berlin the Kaiser ordered that the train should not be allowed to proceed any further. The train was obliged to leave Berlin after hostile crowds broke the windows and tore down the blinds of the carriage in which Her Majesty was sitting. The train made it's way to neutral Denmark.

It was in Denmark, whilst waiting for arrangements for the Empress to return to Russia by ship, that the Empress met Mrs Walter Wall, an American from North Carolina who was similarly stranded by the outbreak of War and was staying at the Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen. Also resident at the hotel at the same time was Prince Felix Yussopov who, himself,  had only just escaped from the Kaisers clutches and two years later was to murder Rasputin.

The Empress and Mrs Wall struck up a friendship and when the Empress left for her homeland she made a personal gift to Mrs Wall of a small silver gilt and enamel cigarette case by the Russian court jeweller Ovchinnikov. The 
Empress  eventually returned to St Petersburg and in four short years was to see the revolution and the assassination  of her son, Tsar Nicholas II, her daughter-in-law, her four granddaughters and the Tsars heir, her grandson Alexei.


Photo: Tennants Auctioneers
Notes: Lot 394.  Russian Silver and Enamel Cigarette Case, by Ovchinnikov, St Petersburg circa 1890. Profusely decorated with foliate cloisonné enamels and arabesques, bear Imperial Standard Mark.
Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, Great Britain.  Spring Fine Art Sale.  28th / 29th March 2014 
© Tennants Auctioneers and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 March, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:05 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 24 March 2014 6:32 AM EDT
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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Important Romanov Letters, Photographs to be Auctioned at Paris
Topic: Auctions

Olivier Coutau-Begarie have announced their next Souvenirs Historiques auction to be held on March 21st, 2014 in Paris, France. The auction will offer correspondence and photographs of the Imperial Court of Russia and the Royal Courts of Britain, Greece and Denmark. More than 3,000 letters and 4,000 photographs to members of the members of the Romanov, Orleans, Windsor and Oldenburg families, from Princess Marie d'Orléans (1865 - 1909) and her husband Prince Valdemar of Denmark (1858-1939) will be offered. 

Of particular interest are the correspondence addressed to the Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia by her brother, Prince Valdemar. These rare and unpublished letters cover the period 1917-1925, recording the tragic events of the Russian Revolution, from the fall of the Romanovs to the exile of  members of the Russian Imperial family. They also reveal the final moments of Tsar Alexander III in 1894, and the splendour of the coronation of the last Tsar of Russia in 1896. The photographs were taken by the princess and her father, Prince Robert, Duke of Chartres, between 1890 and 1909. They include previously unseen photographs of the Romanov, Windsor, Oldenburg and Orleans families.

The auction will take place at the Hotel Drouot in Paris on Friday 21st March, 2014. Further details of this auction will be posted on Royal Russia as they are made available. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 February, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:22 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 3 February 2014 7:42 AM EST
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Saturday, 18 January 2014
Rare Russian Coins & Medals Fetch Over $5 Million at Auction
Topic: Auctions

A gold medal produced in 1913, on the 300th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty sold for US$315,900
Struck to commemorate the 30th Birthday of Tsar Alexander II’s fourth son Grand Duke Vladimir, an 1876 25 Roubles topped The New York Sale, Auction XXXIII and was purchased for US$380,250. The proof-like gold 25 Roubles is one of only four large gold coin types issued by Imperial Russia. Of the four, the 25 Roubles coin is the rarest and most elusive, as only 100 pieces were struck. [Lot 1235]

Vladimir was president of the Academy of Arts and a famous Patron to many artists. His military career was tarnished after the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1905, when hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed outside the Winter Palace as they marched to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II. Although he was away from the city at the time and claimed no responsibility, Vladimir’s reputation never recovered.

This rare commemorative issue was from the collection of Åke Lindén, a man of international stature who’s aim was to own an example of every type coin, from every county in the world, since 1850. Born in Stockholm, his passion for coin collecting was inspired by his father who travelled widely all over the world, bringing back different coins from each country he visited. The New York Sale included the first coins from his collection to be offered and Baldwin’s are extremely proud to be presenting his entire collection of world coins as part of their 2014 auction calendar in London and Hong Kong.

An important piece of Russian financial history was included in the Lindén Collection. An 1876 Imperial 10 Roubles attracted some competitive bidding and was purchased for US$351,000. The coin was produced as part of a set of major currency reforms, which were designed by famous Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte to stabilise and place the Russian Rouble on the gold standard. [Lot 1313]

Also included in the reforms, and from the Lindén Collection, was an 1895 Half Imperial 5 Roubles which sold for US$234,000. Witte issued the series of special dual denomination gold coins to huge success, providing stability and stimulating economic development. [Lot 1314]

Sold as part of the famous 1981 Schweizerischer Bankverein auction a gold medal produced in 1913, on the 300th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, was purchased in this sale for US$315,900. The medal brought the highest price of any Russian medal or coin in the Schweizerischer Bankverein auction. It is one of only a few known to exist in gold. [Lot 1384]

The house of Romanov was the second and last Imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, which ended with the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the start of the Russian Revolution. The medal depicts the conjoined busts of Nicholas II and Michael Feodorovich, the first Russian Tsar of the dynasty. 
For more information on this auction, please refer to the following article;

Valuable Tsarist Russian Coins to Be Auctioned in New York

© Baldwins and Dmitry Markov Coins and Medals. 18 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:47 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 January 2014 11:00 AM EST
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Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Valuable Tsarist Russian Coins to Be Auctioned in New York
Topic: Auctions

Coins from one the world’s most prolific collections will be sold in New York on Thursday 9th January at Baldwin’s auction, in association with Dmitry Markov Coins & Medals and M & M Numismatics.

The collection was formed by Swede, Åke Linden. Born in Stockholm, but brought up in Karlskoga, he was a man of international stature, serving for a number of years as Assistant General Director of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), now the World Trade Organisation. He was inspired to start collecting coins as he travelled from country to country as part of his job and became intrigued by the volume and variety of different local currencies he encountered. His aim was to own an example of every type coin from every country in the world since 1850, and he set about the task with passion and a methodical and a single minded approach.

The auction includes several exceptional Russian coins from the collection, including potentially the most expensive in the sale. Struck to commemorate the 30th birthday of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, the 1876 proof-like gold 25 Roubles is one of only four large gold coin types issued by Imperial Russia. Of the four, the 25 Roubles coin is the rarest and most elusive, as only 100 pieces were struck. Depicting a crowned double headed eagle the present example is uncirculated and in exceptional condition. It is expected to sell for US$200,000 [Lot 1235]

An 1897 Imperial 10 Roubles and an 1895 Half Imperial 5 Roubles, both proof-like, uncirculated, and extremely rare, are two further examples of the impeccable taste of this discerning collector. The 5 Roubles is one of only 36 struck and each coin is estimated at US$100,000. [Lots 1313 and 1314]

Both the coins were produced as part of a set of major currency reforms, designed by famous Russian Finance Minister Sergei Witte, to firstly stabilise the Russian Rouble , and then to place it on the Gold Standard. Witte issued a series of special gold coins which had dual denominations and could be traded in European countries as part of the European Monetary Union. The reforms were hugely successful at providing stability and stimulating economic development.

Two further coins, a 1902, Gold 37 ½ Roubles – 100 Francs, the highest denomination of a Russian coin ever struck, and a 1896 Nicholas II Coronation Commemorative 2 ½ Imperials – 25 Roubles, were also produced during this period of reform and each is estimated at US$75,000. [Lots 1311 and 1312]

All four coins are part of the Åke Linden collection.

Elsewhere, a gold Paul I 1798 5 Roubles , formerly in the collection of the famous numismatist, the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, is one of a number of coins in the collection from his assemblage. In choice uncirculated condition it is estimated at US$35,000. [Lot 1154]

Comprising every coin ever produced from the Russian Empire, the Michilovitch collection was subsequently seized by the communists. The gold and silver coins and medals were to be sold in Luzern in September 1939 but the sale was cancelled due to the outbreak of war. In 1951 the coins were catalogued by Baldwin’s for a Christie’s sale in London, while around that time a U.S. dealer negotiated a private treaty purchase of the copper coinage and sold that part of the collection to the Smithsonian Institution, where they remain. Coins from the Michalovitch collection are always eagerly sought by contemporary collectors. 
© Baldwins and Dmitry Markov Coins and Medals. 24 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:14 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 9:33 AM EST
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Romanov Treasures a Dazzling Success at Geneva Auction
Topic: Auctions

Dazzling success for the fourth Russian Art sale at Geneva’s Hôtel des Ventes. Bidders from Europe, the United States and Russia gathered in the saleroom and busied the telephones all to take part in this exceptional auction presenting many objects of global importance. The total sale result surpassed *CHF 3.8 million, constituting a record result for a Russian Art sale at Hôtel des Ventes.  *Prices quoted in this article are in CHF (Swiss Francs)

It was in the midst of a full and captive saleroom that the fierce battle ensued between multiple bidders seated around the room and on the telephones resulting in 100% of the letters from Tsars Nicholas I, Alexander II and their families being sold for a total of CHF 743,000 ($830,000). Almost the entire collection of 230 letters (pictured above) was sold to a Swiss Russophile collector, the same person who acquired the majority of the photographs from the Thormeyer collection in 2011 and who has a connection to Russian museums. The atmosphere was electric in particular for lots 83 and 84 which sold for CHF 243,000 and CHF 170,000, establishing world records for letters from Tsar Nicholas I at more than CHF 12,000 per letter. A record was also set for three letters from Tsar Alexander II that sold for near CHF 16,000 (lot 76). The letters belonged to the widow of an American Captain who obtained them in Europe and brought them back after Second World War having been deployed there for The Stars and Stripes newspaper. The vendor selected Hôtel des Ventes in Geneva for the sale of this piece of Russian history after having consulted with other auction houses in New York, London and Paris.
The Russian works of art also attracted many international bidders. The exceptional pair of Imperial Porcelain Manufactory vases (top photo) from Saint Petersburg was sold for CHF 1.58 million (lot 240). The vases were an imperial gift from Tsar Nicholas I to his sister-in-law Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna for Christmas in 1849. The provenance and authenticity were confirmed by the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Having remained in the same family for 210 years, the gold snuffbox (below) by master maker Keibel of Saint Petersburg weighing 250g and set with 37 diamonds changed hands for CHF 522,000, setting a new world record for a Russian snuffbox from this period (lot 176). This unique box was given to Prince Comuto by Tsar Alexander I on 7th December 1803 for his appointment as Prince and Governor of the Septinsular Republic (Greece). The auction of these two spectacular pieces aroused great enthusiasm with the public who broke out in applause after the hammer fell on each lot. 

Bernard Piguet, CEO and Chief Auctioneer at Hôtel des Ventes, is delighted with the results and underlines: "The auctioning of objects of such high quality that come from private collections and appear on the market for the first time always sparks off enormous excitement amongst collectors. It is not surprising they reached record sale prices as they were indeed exclusive and merited a certain level of attention".
Lot 92 consisting of 33 photographs (below) was withdrawn from the auction following a provisional judicial order from Geneva authorities after a request by the Russian Consulate. Their sale has been suspended until such time as the exact provenance can be established. 

© Hôtel des Ventes. 10 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:06 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 10 December 2013 2:47 PM EST
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