Update on the Fabergé Egg with V&C Watch

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.

Update on the Fabergé Egg with V&C Watch

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.

Update on the Fabergé Egg with V&C Watch

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.

Update on the Fabergé Egg with V&C Watch

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.

Update on the Fabergé Egg with V&C 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!

Thanks Dean, that is one fascinating "Dan", or should I say Egg :-)
07/06/2014 - 04:07

Great follow-up on the Faberge Egg.  I'm still curious that VC has not officially confirmed that it is a VC watch inside this egg (I think that is what Alex told us when the news about this egg came up)?

Forgive my slilly humour, but the word for "Egg" in Chinese is pronounced "Dan".  cheeky

BR, Dan

Hmmm, I'm trying to picture
07/06/2014 - 04:30

a fried Dan sandwich surprise

Well, many Chinese swearing phrases refer to "this or that" type of egg!
07/06/2014 - 04:34

So whenever people get upset and start yelling at each other, I always get dragged into it sad

If it can be of any comfort, scrambled Dans are my favorite breakfast
07/07/2014 - 09:22

dish cheeky

I think the big outstanding question is was the watch part of the
07/07/2014 - 09:20

original make or added at a later date. If the former, it would make this VC the most expensive horologival object ever!!!

then V&C sets the record!
07/07/2014 - 16:09

Apparently the watch was first entered in the accounts of the Russian Imperial Cabinet in 1887 as "egg with clock", and again in 1889 as "Easter Egg with clock", so the V&C watch was original to the piece heart

Another Fabergé Egg with V&C Watch?
08/04/2014 - 20:05

A fellow collector has alerted me to the fourth Imperial Easter Egg, which also has a surprise watch.  The brand identification is entirely unproven, however, given the relationship already established with the previous Egg it would be a credible supposition that it too may be a V&C.

Described as Cherub with Chariot, the fourth Egg from 1888 was last inventoried in 1917 and has been variously described as "angel pulling chariot with egg, angel with clock in golden egg", with the price of the angel and chariot being 1,500 roubles and the gold egg with clock at 600 roubles.  Note the Egg in gold was specifically mentioned, whereas the metal for chariot was not.  This suggests another metal, likely silver.  Unfortunately, there are no photographs or detailed descriptions upon which to base an accurate representation of the Egg.  Nevertheless, based upon other Faberge designs of the period, some scholars have suggested this appearance:

TESSSTTESSST

Last seen in 1922, there is speculation the Egg ended up with Armand Hammer in the USA.  A 1934 sales catalog for his New York outlet described a "minitature silver amour (ed. cherub, angel) holding wheelbarrow with Easter Egg, made by  Faberge, court jeweler.  From children's half of the Alexander Palace.  Inventory no. 935."  

Personally I share the skepticism of many others regarding this story.  There is a heck of a difference between a chariot and wheelbarrow.  Faberge did create designs with cherub and wheelbarrow:

TESSST

However, the Russian archives clearly described the item as a chariot, ie, two wheels.  Many thanks to mieks.com for these enlightening pictures.  So the fourth Egg is still missing; out there somewhere to be discovered perhaps at another fleamarket.  Would make a nice addition to your V&C collection, too wink.

Interesting, but I am also skeptical
08/06/2014 - 14:02

That is a pretty glaring difference. Although I wonder how one say, "Please have the cherub being me a fresh wheelbarrow full of mustard please," in Russia. I suppose the Tsars, Tsarinas, or their children may have be teen less polite.  One may never know, much like the fate of the remaining eggs!

interesting how all of a sudden these things pop up!! The 1st egg
08/06/2014 - 14:26

did have a VC watch but it is highly probably that the watch was either added at a later date or was bought by Fabergé who put it in the egg