Today we give loved ones chocolate, peanut butter and cream filled eggs on Easter, which is a lovely indulgence that we don’t enjoy every day. But more than 130 years ago Russian Emperor Alexander III took Easter gift giving to new, unprecedented heights when he commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé to create the first of the Fabergé Eggs.
The First Fabergé Egg
The first Fabergé egg was created in 1885. It was an Easter gift for Alexander III’s wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. The story goes that Maria had been infatuated with a decorative egg her aunt Princess Wilhelmina Marie of Denmark had when she was a child. Alexander III had learned of Fabergé’s skillful goldsmith work several years earlier, and tapped him to create an objets d’art for the coming Easter – the most important holiday within the country’s Orthodox Church.
The emperor gave Fabergé detailed directions on the custom art piece, which came to be known as the Hen Egg. The exterior is made entirely of white enamel giving it the look of a genuine egg. But the egg opens to reveal the yellow gold “yolk” inside. The yolk also opens and holds a tiny hen figurine. The hen too opened and inside was a tiny diamond replica of the Russian Imperial Crown.
The artistry that went into Fabergé’s egg is breathtaking. His work so pleased the House of Romanov royal family that the creation of an Imperial Egg became an annual Easter tradition for 32 years. The more eggs Fabergé created for the Russian royal family the more grand they became.
Each egg took at least a year to design and create using a variety precious metals, gemstones and crystal. The only requirement was that each egg had to have a nesting feature with a surprise inside.
Where the Faberge Eggs Are Now
Today 43 of the 50 Fabergé eggs are known to have survived over the years. Political turmoil and WWI played a pivotal role in the fate of the eggs and the man who created them.
When the Bolsheviks ousted the royal family they ransacked the palaces and confiscated all of the valuables, including all but a few of Fabergé eggs. Several went missing in the looting and the Order of St. George egg was smuggled out by Empress Maria when she made her escape to England.
For years the Fabergé eggs sat in a crate in the Kremlin Armoury storerooms. Then in 1930, under the command of Stalin, Russian officials began to sell off the eggs to fund their military conquests. U.S. entrepreneur Armand Hammer managed to purchase a number of the Fabergé eggs, which he later sold to art collectors.
As unbelievable as it sounds, one of the lost Fabergé eggs was recently discovered in the U.S. by a man who found it at a rummage sale. He initially intended to sell it for $500 as scrap metal, but then after a little research he learned that it was Third Imperial Easter Egg and worth approximately $33 million.
Ten of the Fabergé eggs remain with the Kremlin, and many others are held in private collections. The Hen Egg and eight others can be found in the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Rose Trellis Egg is housed in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Five more are owned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but they travel around to locations throughout the world.
Delysia Chocolatier offers the same level of quality and customization that Fabergé provided the Russian royal family. In addition to the limited edition Easter Truffle Collection and Chocolate Easter Bunny Mold, we can handcraft custom chocolates based on your own unique design.