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Faberg's Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire Hardcover – 1700

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House (1700)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006550X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065509
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.7 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #893,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa242cfcc) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa245abd0) out of 5 stars Not Just Fancy Jewelry Oct. 29 2008
By Rob Hardy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There are many books (and even some websites) devoted to pictures of the jeweled eggs produced by Fabergé for the last two czars of Russia to give to their czarinas on Easter. _Fabergé's Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces that Outlived an Empire_ (Random House) by Toby Faber is not like those. Sure, it has photos, but only of some of the fifty eggs that were so given. The point of Faber's fascinating book is not the sparkle of these splendid, somewhat preposterous baubles, but the history behind them. He has, in many cases, told the stories of individual eggs and positioned them within the history of the last years of the Russian Empire, and then followed them from after the revolution until the current day. This, then, is a history book with a wide scope, using the eggs as a mere foundation for bigger themes. It is full of remarkable stories from the royal family as well as from the colorful subsequent owners of the eggs, and Faber, who wrote about the violins of _Stradivari's Genius_ a few years ago, has told the stories in a lively way to interconnect a lot of historical strands.

When Czar Alexander III came to Fabergé before Easter in 1881, he wanted a present for his wife, the Empress Maria. The first egg of the series was the Hen Egg, based on the design of an egg in the Royal Danish Collection, and since Maria was from Denmark, it would have reminded her of her happy childhood there. The eggs became an annual tradition thereafter, and each year Fabergé had more freedom about how to execute the commission. When Alexander died only aged 49 in 1894, Fabergé might have worried that the new czar Nicholas II would not have the same taste or desires, but Nicholas proved to be unwilling to change anything much (a characteristic that Faber shows played a role in his doom), and continued the tradition, with Easter eggs going not just to Maria his mother but to Alexandra his new wife. The eggs often reflected historical landmarks or anniversaries. The Trans-Siberian Railway Egg of 1900 commemorating the newly completed railway. Fabergé knew that he could please Alexandra with depictions of her children; the famous Lilies of the Valley Egg of 1898 had a surprise of pop-out portraits of her husband and daughters. Faber demonstrates that the eggs could represent the alienation of the royals from the world around them. He contrasts these expensive and beautiful toys with the lot of the Russian people and increases our understanding of the revolution that brought the family down in 1918, and the eggs were available for sale abroad to benefit the new Soviet state. The most famous collector was Malcolm Forbes, who determined that he would buy up so many of the eggs he would have more than were left in the Kremlin vaults. He thought he had succeeded, too, with eleven eggs to the Kremlin's ten in 1985, but increased interest in the eggs (and a Forbes-inspired boom in their prices, which lasted after his death in 1990) meant that scholars went to work on tracking down exact listings of their history. Forbes's cache was entirely Fabergé eggs of the period, but only nine were actual gifts from a czar. In 2004, a Russian tycoon bought Forbes's eggs to go back into the Kremlin Armory Museum.

The eggs now get lent out for displays, and for Russians can symbolize a romanticized, glorious past that the Communists wanted them all to forget. It is a past which still takes hold of people's imaginations, although the past was actually inglorious. As Faber points out, though, there is a symmetry of the eggs ordered by the super-rich czar, now brought back to Russia by the czar's super-rich oligarch successors. This is a fine history that tells a great deal more about characters and events than it does about mere ostentatious and whimsical jewelry.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa245ac24) out of 5 stars The title is misleading Nov. 6 2011
By Reading Rocks - Published on
I was hoping to read a book that tells about how the house of Faberge was created; how they trained their craftsman - some who were with them for many, many years; how they selected their employees; how the company was run; etc. Instead, 95% of this book covers the Romanov family history and the revolution of 1918. Although I am an aficionado of Romanov history, I didn't feel that this book was the place to go into so much detail of the family. It does cover Faberge's start and a little about their stores but the title of this book should have been "Nicholas and Alexandra: Purchase of Faberge Eggs". There are only 2-3 photos of the eggs which was also very disappointing - and ALL in black and white. This book, although interesting for those who have no knowledge of the last Romanovs, is a classic example of a writer who probably wrote this book in 35 minutes from material that is available at any reference library.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa245afd8) out of 5 stars Any interested in either Russian history or art will find this an involving and unique history Jan. 14 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Faberge imperial eggs were Easter gifts which Russia's last two czars gave to their czarinas, and are the biggest symbols of old Russia's artistic craftsmen. FABERGE'S EGGS is the first book to tell the story of these eggs, considering their design, their origins, the surprises hidden inside the eggs, and the evolution of a gift tradition that would end with an empire and with vanished eggs in the revolution. Any interested in either Russian history or art will find this an involving and unique history.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2466438) out of 5 stars The Legendary Faberge May 26 2009
By Julie Merilatt - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a great comprehensive look at Faberge's life, his work, and his relationship with the Russian Imperial Family. After Alexander III first began the tradition of giving a Faberge egg to his wife every Easter, Faberge's skill and attention to detail flourished each year. Upon Alexander's death, his son Nicholas II would continue the custom, commissioning elaborate eggs for both his mother and his wife. Faber's book details many of these imperial eggs, and traces their histories through the revolution, through the century, and around the world. This book also illustrates the decadence of pre-revolutionary czarist Russia. Faberge's workshops created the most ornate and sought-after jewelry and trinkets in the world until WWI and the communist uprising devastated any market for such frivolities. Regardless, Faberge's eggs were impressive creations, each unique and spectacular in their craftsmanship and originality.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa24663e4) out of 5 stars What an interesting book! Jan. 24 2012
By CMP3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We all have the coffee table books of the beautiful work the Faberge company produced, now we have an opportunity to know a complete history of the company and of the family themselves. Very, very interesting. Without a doubt,an improtant addition for anyone with an interest in Faberge.Don't pass this one up. Extraordinary is an understatement.

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