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Recent Acquisitions

The Faberge Museum's collection is being enriched not only by jewelry items. Any archival document and any household object directly related to the life and work of Faberge are of great interest, and has its rightful place in the museum. With this in mind, the museum would like to announce two new acquisitions.

The Suitcase of Agafon Karlovich Faberge As is well known, Agafon Karlovich (1876-1951) not only was successfully working in his father’s company. As a brilliant artist, designer and an expert on materials, he ran the company together with his brother Eugene and father. He also was an appraiser of the Diamond Room, and an appraiser to His Imperial Majesty. Agafon Faberge was also a peculiar keeper of the Faberge family treasures, and perfectly understood the art of painting. He owned a unique collection of Old Master paintings, ancient oriental rugs, bronze figures, rare postage stamps, Chinese and Japanese arts and crafts, and many other items. His collection was kept in his magnificent three-storey house in the town of Levashov outside St. Petersburg, and he had more than 5,500 items that his circle of friends referred to as the “little Hermitage”. In 1918 after the company's liquidation, he gained custody of more ornamental materials – diamonds, stones, gold, etc. Unfortunately, as often happens in hectic times, property turned into a heavy burden. At that time, when the main question was how to survive, and the Faberge family was forced to leave Russia, Agafon remained in St. Petersburg and even tried to profit from a seemingly hopeless situation. Agafon opened an antique store at his home on Bolshaya Morskaya Street, where the Faberge company was located. However, his business was not profitable for long. Soon the Bolsheviks also forbade private trade and private property, and forced the population to hand over valuables, including family jewels and cultural objects. Agafon Faberge was not only forced to end his business, but he was also forced to cooperate with the Bolsheviks. Beginning in 1922 he worked in the commission of valuation, stock-taking and the distribution of expropriated czarist treasures. Agafon Faberge also helped to create the book, “The Imperial Family’s Treasures,'' published in 1925 by the Finance Ministry in English and French (now exhibited in the Faberge Museum ).

This album is a catalogue for western antique dealers, with photos of the top 100 Imperial treasures, and which were soon after sold in the West. Agafon's life saw periodic cooperation with the Bolsheviks, mixed with occasional arrests and even serving in jail, the longest of which lasted 11 months. Each time in jail ended with Agafon “voluntary” giving or granting a part of his property to the Bolshevik commission. After one such arrest, Agafon was forced to `donate' his raw diamond collection to the Gem Museum, as well as different stone cutting products and the last unfinished Imperial Easter egg, the Constellation Egg (exhibited in the Faberge Museum). Despite his vain endeavours to adapt to the new order and to save his property, Agafon devised a plan to escape abroad, which he carried out in the winter 1927 after several unlucky attempts. The jeweler escaped in a sleigh across the ice of the Gulf of Finland together with his family and goods and chattels, coming under Red Army fire. Yet, he miraculously escaped death. Agafon carried a suitcase with his most valuable items – diamonds, gold, the best saved products of the Faberge company and a collection of unique post stamps, whose sale let the master settle in Finland and to build a new life abroad.

Now, this legendary suitcase is exhibited in the Faberge Museum. On its inside is the personal stamp of Agafon Faberge, identical to the same stamp on the second new exhibit - “Atlas of the stars in the sky”, a handbook from the library of Agafon Faberge. This book served as a basis of calculation made by Karl Faberge for the establishment of the exact location of the stars in the Leo constellation on the Crown Prince Alexei's birthday. This calculation served as the basis to create the Imperial Constellation Egg, on whose sphere surface the stars’ location was reproduced with scientific accuracy. In addition, on one of the maps inside the publication the artist’s hand sketch of a lion is drawn on the sphere. On a supplementary sheet of the book we see one more sketch by Faberge’s hand, where the lion’s silhouette is already directly combined with the stars

2011-03-24
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