The Romanov dynasty was founded in Russia 400 years ago when 16-year-old Michael Romanov, who was related to the last czar of the Rurik Dynasty (ninth century to 1596), was, in 1613, elected the first czar of the House of Romanov.
The 400th anniversary is being marked this year with auctions and museum exhibits of Imperial Russian items dating from the 1850s to 1917, when the Romanov reign ended with the abdication of Nicholas II during the Russian Revolution.
Among the Imperial offerings are creations by Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), the Russian jeweler, who in 1885 was given the title of “Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown” by Nicholas’s father, Czar Alexander III.
At Christie’s Russian Works of Art Auction this month seven of the top 10 sellers were by Fabergé or his craftsmen.
The top-selling lot was a silver-mounted Imperial porcelain vase, which was purchased by a European collector for $483,750, more than trip-ling the low of its $150,000-$250,000 estimate.
The 1908 vase was intended to be a presentation gift from Czar Nicholas, but it remained in the Imperial Cabinet’s stock until the Revolution. By mid-century it had made its way into the Fabergé collection of the late American oil heiress India Early Minshall, who donated her collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Western Reserve Society. The Society later deacessioned its collection, which was sold at auction.
The jeweled gold and enamel Fabergé pieces that were among the top sellers at Christie’s auction included a presentation desk clock ($171,750), a vanity case ($117,750), and a gold box that Empress Alexandra gave to her sister Princess Irene of Prussia ($117,750).
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An old shoe and an old handkerchief would not ordinarily make their way onto the auction block, but both did this month.
They were from a New England collection of Imperial Russian items sold at Skinner’s European Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction.
The white leather child’s shoe, which brought $9,600, had by tradition belonged to Czarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, Nicholas’s son. The handkerchief embroidered with the cipher of Empress Maria Feodorovna, Nicholas’s mother, fetched $523.
The top seller was a circa 1838 Russian icon depicting Our Lady of Kazan, which brought $15,990, and was followed by the $15,600 paid for a pair of 1908-17 Fabergé gilded silver and enamel napkin rings.
The nine porcelain Easter eggs in the sale were topped by an enamel and gilt-decorated egg with a depiction of St. Helen’s arrest in 1918 ($11,400). Topping the more than three dozen photos of the royal family was a small postcard photo of Nicholas and Alexandra’s five children pictured with a pony. It sold for $9,225 or more than 18 times the low of its $500-$700 estimate.
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Visitors to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem this summer will be able to view more than 230 rare Fabergé creations. when the exhibit “Fabergé Revealed” opens on June 22.
The exhibit, which includes Imperial Easter eggs, ruby-encrusted brooches, gold and diamond cigarette cases, and other treasures, is drawn from the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
One of the rarest items is the Imperial Czarevich Easter egg of 1912, which Nicholas gave to Alexandra commemorating their son, Alexei, 7, who the previous year had nearly died of hemophilia. Inside the egg, which has an elaborate lapis lazuli and gold filigree shell, is a two-sided portrait of Alexei framed by a diamond-encrusted Romanov family crest.
More than 40 family photographs in enameled Fabergé frames also are included in the exhibit. The photographs and jewels that were sewn into the undergarments of the four Romanov daughters are said to have been among the few possessions which the family was able to take with them when they were forced out of St. Petersburg during the Revolution.
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Skinner’s Fine Wines Auction again will be held in two sessions and for the second time it will also offer beer.
The 362-lot live auction will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at its Boston gallery followed on Friday by an online action of nearly 500 lots. Bidding opens at
10 a.m. and ends on May 11 at 6 p.m.
Thursday’s offerings range from a lot of 12 bottles of Château Lafite Roths-child 2000, first growth ($15,000-
$20,000) to a large selection of wines with estimates under $500.
The majority of the 30 lots of beer being auctioned are in one-bottle lots and have estimates ranging from $100 to $600 except for the $1,200-$1,800 estimate for a bottle of Cantillon Don Quijote, which was bottled in Brussels on Nov. 20, 2008.
Also being auctioned is fine ale from breweries in California, Colorado, and Indiana.
All but about two dozen of the 499 lots in the online auction have estimates under $1,000, with a large selection in the low hundred-dollar range.
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The “Bill of Rights,” a book art project of Richard Minsky, founder of the nonprofit Center for Book Arts, in New York, will be on view at the Boston Book, Paper & Photo Exposition and Sale to be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-
4 p.m. at Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington.
Combining his skill as a professional bookbinder and his creativity as an artist, Minsky has graphically illustrated each of the first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution.
Another highlight of the exposition, sponsored by the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers, will be a talk by book specialist Richard Mori on the works of Tasha Tudor (1915-2012) the Vermont illustrator-author of children’s books.
Rare and vintage books, historical documents, photographs, and ephemera will be shown by 75 dealers.
From 1-3 p.m. Kenneth Gloss, owner of the Brattle Book Shop, will give appraisals on old books and paper items with a limit of two items.
Virginia Bohlin can be reached at globe