$1.27 Million Fabergé Flower Stuns Jewelry Expert on ‘Antiques Roadshow’
Could this be the greatest jewelry find in the show's history?
“We’ve had one of the most significant jewelry finds in 40 years of Antiques Roadshow history,” Simon Shaw, executive producer of the long-running BBC series, told the Daily Mail.
The flower is about four inches tall, and has been incorrectly described by other news sources as a brooch. Jewelry expert Geoffry Munn, who appraised the rare piece, even went so far as to say the bauble could fetch £1.2–1.4 million ($1.5–1.78 million) at auction.
There are only 80 known surviving examples of fruit and flower studies by Fabergé, which are typically presented in a rock crystal vase that appears to be filled with water. According to Christie’s, they rarely come to market.
Recent results, however, suggest that such a high-water mark might be difficult to achieve. A spray of Fabergé buttercups fetched just £350,000 ($566,000) at Sotheby’s London in 2013. The same year, a gold-mounted nephrite, purpurine, chalvedony, aventurine quartz, and a rock crystal piece depicting a hawthorne, designed for the company by Henrik Wigström, failed to find a buyer at Christie’s London, according to the artnet Price Database.
Earlier this month, two studies, of enameled cornflowers and turquoise forget-me-nots, also went unsold at Sotheby’s London’s “Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons” sale, despite pre-sale estimates of £180,000–250,000 ($233,000–323,000) and £250,000–350,000 ($323,000–452,000), respectively.
On Antiques Roadshow, two soldiers brought a similarly ornate piece to the taping, claiming that it had been given as a gift to their army regiment following the Boer War (1899–1902). As reported by the Daily Mirror, it was stored in an ornate presentation box.
“The expert said there was also one sold at auction recently, less elaborate than this one, that went for around £600,000 [$763,000] … I think the soldiers had an idea that another flower had sold for a lot of money so they didn’t seemed too shocked when he told them the valuation price,” Dan Bansal, who was present at the taping, told the Birmingham Post. “They were very calm about it but the crowd gathered around were shocked.”
The flower is similar to a gold, nephrite, enamel, and rose diamond Fabergé sculpture in the Royal Collection Trust named Japonica that was designed by Henrik Emanuel in about 1900. The piece was given to Queen Alexandra by Stanislaw Poklewski-Koziell—”perhaps the most prolific present giver the world has ever seen,” according to the collection website—who purchased it at Faberge’s London branch in October 1907 for just £52 and 5 shillings.
The Antiques Roadshow episode, which will not air until autumn, was filmed June 21 at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, England.
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