20th Century AD
9.125″ (23.2cm) high
Of all of the creations of the House of Fabergé none possesses the mystique attached to the Imperial Easter Eggs, for which this master jeweler is justly famous. And yet, his flagship establishment at 26 Bolshaya Morskaya in St. Petersburg, Russia, attracted the rich and famous from the world over who came to shop at this exclusive boutique in search beautiful, jewel- encrusted articles which they would use in their everyday life. We end to forget in this day of cyberspace and e-mail messages the fine art of letter writing, which dominated civilized circles in our not too distant past. The epistolary arts required a panoply of appropriate articles from pens, ink wells, letter openers, signets and seal rings, to fine furniture at which the author could sit composing letters in the very literary styles of the day.
Within this context, primacy of place was accorded the letter opener, of which the House of Fabergé designed many. The present example is an evocation of that very practical, but for clients of Fabergé’s, deluxe and costly article. It features a very naturalistic representation of a pug, the Boston Bull Dog, as its terminal, created with attention to detail and evocative of Fabergé’s own animal sculptures in rare stones. In keeping with the design principles of those sculptures, this pug wears a collar of gold and its eyes are diamonds. He sits attentively on a black jade base, and may have been commissioned by an individual who, when attending to his mail, was accompanied by his pet.
The handle of the letter opener is created in beautiful rhodonite, its dusty rose color beautifully contrasting with the silver and jade. It is adorned with three applied elements, namely, an Imperial Double-Headed Eagle crafted of gold which was one of the insignia of the Russian Imperial Tsarist family, and is ultimately based on the Double Eagle of the ancient Byzantine Empire; beneath this insignia is a swag occupying the handle’s center, its ends fastened by means of diamond-capped fasteners. The final element, at the bottom, is a profile of a male figure, again of gold, whose features resemble those of Nicholas II, the last tsar of the Romanov dynasty, and patron of Fabergé. The beautifully crafted blade is attached to this handle by means of a gold element affixed with ruby-capped fasteners.
Such a letter open is a fitting accessory for those who value beauty and insist on owning utilitarian objects whose costly materials and consummate craftsmanship transcend their practical purposes.
Dr. Robert Steven Bianchi
Robert Steven Bianchi, Fabergé. Exhibition Album (St. Petersburg 2000), pages 10-12 and for a succinct biography of Fabergé: and Geza Von Habsburg, Alexander von Solodkoff, and Robert Steven Bianchi, Fabergé. Imperial Craftsman and his World (London 2000), pages 298-312, for his animal sculptures in rare stones and pages 167, catalogue number 346, 168, catalogue number 347, and page 284, catalogue number 740, for a selection of Fabergés letter openers, here termed paper knives.Login to view price