Works of high originality, Fabergé’s two-tone gold cigarette cases, with their striped, sunburst and radiating designs, were considered the ultimate style accessory of their day.
Aesthetically a generation ahead of its time, this c. 1900 cigarette case — with its yellow and rose gold reeded bands and rose-cut diamond-set thumbpiece — is a masterclass in understated sophistication. Previously the property of Count Christian of Rosenborg, the beautifully weighted, tactile case is as elegant to the touch as it is on the eye.
Created at the peak of Art Nouveau (when elaborate flourishes were very much the fashion); the case’s sublime simplicity was an early precursor to the Art Deco cigarette cases that followed. While nobody could claim that the Art Deco style originated with Fabergé (the company closed in 1917), the vintage Art Deco cigarette boxes we see today — by, say, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier — owe at least a small debt to Fabergé’s forward-thinking brilliance.
Renowned for its fantastical jewelled Easter eggs that each contained a hidden surprise, the House of Fabergé also excelled at transforming everyday objects into imaginative works of art. This cigarette case is no exception. Disguised within the flawlessly crafted gold box is a concealed Vesta case. Integral to the design yet invisible to the eye, it is hugely typical of the inspired twists for which Fabergé was so famed.
An innovative, suave little case with a fascinating royal history, it will make an excellent addition to any Fabergé collection.
A master silver and goldsmith, August Frederik Hollming (1854-1915), began working for Fabergé shortly after opening his St Petersburg workshop in 1880. The Finnish-born jeweler produced various designs for Fabergé, including immaculately crafted small jewels, such as brooches , cufflinks and miniature Easter egg pendants. However, he was best known for objects of vertu: in particular cigarette cases and fine, guilloche enamelled gold boxes. He remained a Fabergé workmaster until his death.
A name forever synonymous with royalty and glamour, Fabergé’s heyday, under Peter Carl Fabergé’s direction, extended for just three decades or so, before being brought to an abrupt end by the 1917 Russian revolution. Yet, in that short period, Fabergé secured a level of international acclaim that other major ateliers can still only dream of.
Appointed Goldsmith to the Imperial Crown of Russia in 1885, Fabergé’s legendary creations for the Romanovs, particularly his iconic jewelled enamelled Easter eggs, are well documented. However, the Danish and British Royal Families were also hugely important clients. Indeed, the British Royal Collection of Fabergé works remains one the largest and most significant in the world. Established mainly during Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s reign, it has since been added to by subsequent Royal Family members, including King George V, Queen Mary, HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH, The Prince of Wales. The collection contains several works by August Hollming, including an exquisite, two-tone gold Fabergé cigarette case . A gift to Tsar Nicholas II from his mother, the Dowager Tsarina Marie Feodorovna (see later); its similarities to the Janus Arts’ case are striking.
Janus Arts’ Fabergé cigarette case was previously the property of Prince Christian of Denmark (1942-2013). The nephew of King Frederick IX of Denmark; in later life, the Prince took the title of Count Christian of Rosenborg.
Thanks to their inspired matchmaking of the mid-19th century, the Danish Royal Family had close familial ties to their Russian and British counterparts. In marrying Emperor Alexander III, Princess Dagmar of Denmark had become Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia (yes, she of the Royal Collection’s Fabergé gold cigarette case). Meanwhile, her sister, Princess Alexandra’s betrothal to Albert Edward, Prince of Wales — later King Edward VII — saw her eventually crowned Queen Alexandra of Great Britain. The timeline (together with both Royal Households’ appreciation for all things Fabergé) suggests strongly that the cigarette case would have initially been a gift from either dynasty to the Prince’s parents, before being passed on to him.
As King Frederick IX had fathered no male heir, Prince Christian stood third in line to the throne, after his own father and elder brother. However, in 1953, the Danish Act of Succession was amended to allow women to inherit the throne. The dramatic change ensured that Frederick IX’s daughter, Princess Margrethe — now the current Queen, Margrethe II of Denmark — became his natural successor.
Relieved of his inherent duty, the Prince followed his heart and, in 1971, married Anne Dorte Maltoft-Nielsen, an untitled commoner. In doing so, protocol demanded that he forfeit his royal title for that of Count Christian of Rosenborg, along with his right of succession. He kept his cigarette case, though!
An intriguing object of vertu with a regal history; to secure this antique Fabergé gold cigarette case for your own collection, please contact Janus Arts without delay.