This post is a follow-up to the discovery first discussed on the forum here: http://www.thehourlounge.com/en/vacheron-constantin-discussions/lost-faberge-egg-w-vc-clock-inside-found-flea-market-610264?entire_thread=1
Alex mentioned it would be on display at Wartski Jewellers, London, in April. Their website contains a wealth of info on the piece which I hope you will enjoy reviewing here.
The Egg was given by Emperor Alexander III of Russia to his Empress, Marie Feodorovna, for Easter in 1887 and came from the Fabergé shops in St. Petersburg.
It contained a lady’s Vacheron & Constantin watch with white enamel dial. The case had been hinged so the watch would stand upright when the top of the egg was opened. Overall height was a petite 8.2 cm, including the tripod stand.
The background story on these Eggs reveals that 50 were delivered to Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II from 1885 to 1916. This was the third made and, until its rediscovery, one of eight that had been considered lost.
Tracing its history was a fascinating exercise. Following its gifting in 1887 (the price for this “egg with clock” was recorded as 2,160 roubles) it was mentioned again in a list of the Eggs drawn up in 1889.
It was photographed in St. Petersburg in 1902 as part of an exhibition of Marie Feodorovna’s Fabergé collection.
In 1917, the Egg was recorded as confiscated treasure by the Provisional Russian Government and was once again inventoried in 1922. The trail of the Egg went cold after then, until detailed research was conducted by Fabergé specialists in 2011.
They discovered the Egg was sold at auction in New York in 1964, without the Fabergé attribution, for a paltry $2,450. The catalog description at least mentioned it had a 14k Vacheron & Constantin watch.
Again the piece disappeared, to be discovered by chance at a flea market in the American Midwest, likely sometime in 2013, where it was purchased for scrap value of $14,000. Thankfully, the new owner was diligent enough to contact experts at Wartski who alerted him to the great treasure.
The Antiques Trade Gazette, a UK weekly, revealed more details of the lucky find:
Meanwhile it seems a part-time dealer in the Midwest of America had bought the egg at a bric-a-brac market paying $14,000 for what he predicted was $14,500 worth of bullion. As it happened he had overestimated its scrap value (the egg has several scratches where its gold content has been sampled) and it was with a sense of despair earlier this year that he keyed the words 'egg' and 'Vacheron Constantin' into Google. It was then that The Telegraph article caught his eye prompting a succession of sleepless nights and a flight to London to visit Wartski who have handled 12 Imperial eggs in their long history
Shown a series of images of the egg, Mr McCarthy was almost certain a lost Imperial treasure had been found, but to confirm its authenticity he travelled to a small town in the Mid-West where he was shown into the kitchen of the owner's home. The Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg was slightly smaller than a large cupcake positioned next to it.
Although Wartski is silent on the Egg’s final disposition, the London Evening Standard reported it sold to a private collector for £20 million!