Faberge Snuff Box Expected to
Reach 600,000 at Auction

The diamond-encrusted box bearing the portrait of Russia's last emperor,
Nicholas II, is rarer than the jewelled eggs made by the royal goldsmiths

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A rare snuff box from Faberge that experts feared may be lost is expected to fetch more than 600,000 at auction on Monday.

The box, which is encrusted with diamonds and bears the portrait of Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, is rarer than the Royal goldsmiths' famous eggs.

It was given by the Emperor to Turkan Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador to Russia when he left his post in 1913 and its magnificence is a testament to the relationship between the two men and between the two nations, experts say.

Mark Moehrke, Director of works of art at Christies, said: "There were only 19 snuff boxes made by Faberge bearing the images of the Emperor and that makes it very rare, rarer than the egg. There were only 50 Imperial Easter Eggs made.

"This is the first one to appear at auction bearing the portrait since 2001. Not to have one on the market or around the Russian art climate for 10 years makes it quite exceptional.

"There has been a lot of interest, everyone in the Faberge field has heard about it so it is creating quite a stir. Until it came to auction we didn't know if it was lost to time so it is one of those fun discoveries."

The jewelled three-colour gold and guilloche (decorative engraving) enamel Imperial presentation snuff box was originally bought for 2,550 roubles making it one of the most expensive supplied to the Imperial cabinet at the time.

It is unclear how the box came to Europe but it was bought by a private collector in 1919 and has remained in the family until now, when it appears as part of a Russian arts sale at Christies in central London.

The collection, of over 300 pieces from numerous collectors all over the world is expected to be worth more than 15 million.

Alongside the Faberge snuff box is a similar example made by their direct competitor, Koechli, a court jeweller.

The Koechli snuff box, estimated to be worth up to 350,000, was first given by Nicholas II in 1891 to General Major Nikolai Shipov, leader of the Ural Cossacks. ,p> It was then resold to the Russian Royals, as was common practice, and re-presented in 1896 to General Marie Charles Justin Tournier (1841-1912), head of the military household of the French President.

Mr Moehrke said: "It ended up in the collection of Anna Gould, the wealthy daughter of American financier Jay Gould who lived in Paris and was well known for her lavish tastes and dedication to art, so it has a very colourful history."

The collection, which goes on sale on Monday, also includes paintings, furniture, jewellery and pottery.

Source: The Telegraph
28 November, 2010