Buy the Gold Smoking Set Franz Ferdinand Gave as a Gift

A gold smoking set made by Austrian Crown Jeweler A.E. Köchert given as a gift by Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Photo: courtesy Bonhams.

A rare 19th-century gold smoking set Archduke Franz Ferdinand once gave as a gift will be auctioned at Bonhams in London this month, reports ArtDaily. The Austrian royal’s assassination at Sarajevo in 1914 was one of the key events that helped spark the outbreak of World War I.

Carrying a presale estimate of £1,000–1,500 (2,400–4,000), the smoking set, which was made some time after 1891, is engraved “From H I & R H The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, June 1897.” It was presented to Rudolph Robert Basil Aloysius Augustine Fielding, the ninth Earl of Denbigh. At the time, Fielding was serving as a lord-in-waiting for the British House of Lords, a position that is sometimes called upon to meet with visiting heads of state, such as Ferdinand.

The three-piece set is the work of Austrian crown jeweler A E Köchert, founded in the 1830s by partners Heinrich Köchert and Emanuel Pioté. A 1826 lapis lazuli, gold, and enamel snuff box by Pioté will also feature in the upcoming sale, where it is expected to fetch £10,000–15,000 ($16,000–24,000).

Scheduled for November 12, the fine silver and gold boxes auction will include several other Austrian lots dating to the pre-war period. “Vienna in 19th century was home to some of the greatest gold and silver smiths of the age,” said Bonhams head of silver Michael Moorcroft in a statement. “The concentration of wealth and power round the imperial court of Franz Joseph from his accession to the throne in 1848 created huge demand for elaborate and extravagant objects which still hold great appeal for collector today.”

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