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Faberge History

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The story of a legend
For millennia people have been adorning themselves with colorful accessories, made of precious metals, beset with jewels, and decorated with wonderful patterns. Nevertheless, few jewelers have succeeded in being associated with the perfection of their craft across several generations. Peter Carl Faberge, the son of French-German ancestors, ruled the world of jewels in the four decades prior to the outbreak of World War I.

On the following pages, you will hear the story of this legendary jewelry manufacturer, and you will experience the revival of that legend under workmaster VICTOR MAYER. In the museum we will show you some of the most exquisite and famous works of the house of FABERGÉ from the first Imperial Easter eggs to highly luxurious items for everyday use.

Peter Carl Faberge - From artisan to imperial jeweler
If one wished to describe the capabilities of Peter Carl Faberge in a single sentence, one would have to compare him to a choreographer. Just as a choreographer succeeds in combining the different characters of his dancers in a harmonious ensemble, Peter Carl Faberge succeeded in harmonizing the wishes of his customers with the skills of his workmasters.

Peter Carl Faberge was born in St. Petersburg in 1846, the son of the jeweler Gustav and his Danish wife Charlotte Jungstedt. There he went to the German private school St. Anna. In 1860 the family moved to Dresden, where Peter Carl Faberge attended the commercial school. After graduation, the 14-year-old began an extended study trip, in the course of which he completed training as a jeweler at the house of Friedman in Frankfurt am Main.

In 1864 Peter Carl Faberge returned to his hometown as a fully trained artisan and joined his father's jewelry business, where he took over management in 1872. That was the start of the unstoppable rise of the jewelry manufactory FABERGÉ to world fame. Peter and his brother Agathon, who was born in 1862, enthralled visitors at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow in 1882. For his work, Peter Carl Faberge received the Gold Medal. Just three years later, Czar Alexander III appointed him Court Supplier. The impetus for this great honor was the creation of the first of the legendary Imperial Easter eggs that same year.

The reputation of Peter Carl Faberge did not stop at the borders of Russia. In 1897 the royal houses of Sweden and Norway appointed him Court Goldsmith. In 1900, at the behest of Czar Nicholas II, he represented Russian craftsmanship at the World's Fair in Paris. The success was overwhelming. For his miniature replicas of the czarist crown jewels, he received the gold medal and was inducted into the Légion d'Honneur. Peter Carl Faberge climbed the pinnacle of his fame when Czar Nicholas II appointed him Court Goldsmith in 1910.

After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the demand for precious jewels and Objets d' Art dropped drastically. In 1917 Peter Carl Faberge sold his shares in the company to his employees and fled the chaos of the October Revolution via Riga and Berlin to Wiesbaden. He died in 1920 in Lausanne, Switzerland. His mortal remains were transferred to Cannes to rest beside those of his wife, Augusta.

Myth - A jeweler conquers the world
As court supplier to the last two Russian czars, Peter Carl Faberge received the great honor of using the family crest of the Romanovs - the famous double eagle - in his company logo. This was the visible expression of a development that had begun in 1882 at the Pan-Russian Exhibition in Moscow. The then wife of the Czar, Maria Feodorovna had purchased a pair of cufflinks from FABERGÉ for her husband, Czar Alexander III. From then on, the customers of this family enterprise included the rich and noble.

The FABERGÉ firm was founded in 1842, by Peter Carl's father, the jeweler Gustav Faberge. However, only after Peter Carl joined the company did it succeed in attaining the pinnacle of European artistry. In 1869 he sold the first pieces to the St. Petersburg Hermitage. In 1885 FABERGÉ won the Gold Medal at an exhibition in Nuremberg for his replicas of the antique Scythian treasure of Kerch. The same year Czar Alexander III gave him the order to produce the first Imperial Easter egg. The result - the Hen egg - was received so enthusiastically by the ruler, who was worshipped as divine, that he renewed the order for an Easter egg every year thereafter. At the Russian Orthodox Easter festival, he gave them to his wife. From 1895 to 1916, his successor, Nicholas II, gave two Easter eggs each year, one to his wife and one to his mother. In 1896 FABERGÉ produced all the gifts for the coronation ceremonies for the young Czar Nicholas II.

The opening of the first branch in Moscow one year later began a development that would end with FABERGÉ as the largest company in Russia with 500 employees and branches in Odessa (1890), Kiev (1900), and London (1903). The move to new headquarters on Bolshaya-Morskaya 24 in St. Petersburg at a cost of a half million rubles was a visible expression of the rise of the dynasty. In all, more than 150,000 pieces of jewelry and Objets d' Art were produced in the various workshops, all of them unique.

In 1914, however, the jewelry manufacturer's star began to fade. Many of the craftsmen were drafted into military service. The Czar ordered Peter Carl Faberge to produce hand grenades and shell casings. In 1918 the Bolsheviks nationalized the company.

In 1924 Peter Carl's sons, Eugène and Alexander, founded the company "FABERGÉ & Cie" in a vain attempt to revive the faded reputation of the company. However, the void left behind by their father, who had died four years earlier, was too great. In 1951 the company name was transferred to FABERGÉ Inc. In 1989, its legal successor, FABERGÉ Co., New York, appointed the Pforzheim jeweler VICTOR MAYER as the exclusive worldwide workmaster for FABERGÉ and authorized it to market the precious FABERGÉ works of art through the members of the Collegium FABERGÉ. Ever since then VICTOR MAYER has been selling exquisite jewels and Objets d' Art, and is continuing the life-work of Peter Carl Faberge.

Workmasters - The workmasters as guarantors of success
Along with the high level of artistry and craftsmanship, the organization of production was also decisive for the quality of the creations of FABERGÉ. Peter Carl Faberge gave the orders from his clientele to highly qualified workmasters, who had often already worked for him as apprentices and journeymen. They paid no rent for their studio, and the materials and tools were provided by the firm. FABERGÉ guaranteed the workmasters the sale of their articles and gave them a percentage of the profit. While Peter Carl Faberge provided conceptional and creative direction for production, the various workmasters supervised the entire production process.

Erik August Kollin (1870-1886)
Born in Finland in 1836, Kollin settled in St. Petersburg in 1858 after completing his training as a goldsmith. After a few years in the workshop FABERGÉ workmaster August Holmström, he himself was appointed head-workmaster in 1870. Stylistically he leant primarily toward the revival movement and reproduced antique models, such as the jewels of the Scythian kings, which led to FABERGÉ'S international breakthrough.

Michail Perchin (1886-1903)
Like no other, Michail Perchin is linked with the fame of the house of FABERGÉ. The self-taught craftsman was born in 1860 in Petrosavodsk, Russia, and received his master's diploma in 1884 in the Kollin workshop. As Kollin's successor he produced many of the outstanding creations of FABERGÉ. Perchin established and perfected the technique of guilloché enamel and introduced the Rococo, Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau style to the company.

Henrik Emanuel Wigström (1903-1917)
Wigström, born in Finland in 1862, was appointed to the position of assistant to Perchin in 1884. After Perchin's sudden death in 1903, Wigström took over management of the FABERGÉ workshops and held this position in the time of the firm's greatest fame. Wigström introduced the classicist Louis XVI and Empire styles and supervised the first attempts to incorporate elements of the modern Art Deco style.

Since 1989 the Pforzheim jeweler VICTOR MAYER has been entrusted with the creation of exquisite jewels, egg objects, and Objets d' Art, as the exclusive worldwide workmaster of FABERGÉ.

 The above text was taken directly from the official FABERGÉ website

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