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"If you want a tool to be the centre of all manner of tinkering and mending, or for exercise that is gentle and cheap, or for calling the mind off from anxiety or hard thinking, or for healthful and artistic creations, I know of no instrument to be compared to the Lathe. It is easily kept in order, and the results are so quick, so varied, and so beautiful, that you never get tired of it."
— Reverend John Todd (1870)
Turners of the Victorian Era
The House of Fabergé
Gustav Fabrier (1814-1893) – By 1825, the family’s name evolved to Fabergé. In the 1830s, Gustav Faberge moved to St Petersburg, the capital of Russia, to train as a goldsmith under Andreas Ferdinand Spiegel, who specialized in making gold boxes. He continued his training with the celebrated firm of Keibel, goldsmiths and jewelers to the Tsars. By 1842, he earned the title of "master goldsmith" and opened his own retail jewelry business which he decided to call Fabergé (adding the accent in an attempt to give the name a more appealing character to Russian nobility).
Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920) – Carl was born in St. Petersburg. He began working for his father's firm in the mid-1860s, and later took over its management in 1872. Fabergé was a gifted entrepreneur: rather than make the jewelry himself, he delegated production to a head workmaster, who in turn supervised the creation of all the items made at various workshops. His success came from cultivating the best artisans, demanding a technical perfection beyond compare, developing innovative designs, and ingratiating himself to the officials of the Imperial Cabinet who would later help his ascent to fame.
By 1869, most presents to the Imperial Couple and gifts to visiting Heads of State were ordered from Fabergé. In 1884, together with his younger brother Agathon (1862-1895), Fabergé began designing an innovative line of objects that featured exceptional hues of enamel with detailed guilloché engraving, carried out by a new workmaster Mikhail Perkhin (active 1884-1903). This work quickly gained the highest recognition and the orders began pouring in, including the first commission for his incomparable series of imperial Easter eggs. At the peak of his success, the House of Fabergé supplied most of the gifts exchanged by relatives of the imperial families in Russia, Denmark, Germany, and England.
In the early 1900s, the House of Fabergé had won international awards and become one of the largest jewelry firms in Europe, employing some 500 craftsmen and designers who had produced more than 150,000 jewels, silver tableware items, and objects d'art. But World War I was tragic for Russia. Jeweled articles were replaced by much simpler works made of steel, brass and copper, most of Fabergé's specialist craftsmen were drafted into the army, and his workshops were converted into factories for making hand grenades and artillery shells. After the 1917 Revolution, the Bolshevik takeover, and the murder of the Imperial Family, Fabergé fled to Switzerland and died within a couple years.
Eugène Fabergé (1874-1960) & Alexander Fabergé (1877-1952) – After the revolution, two of Peter Carl Fabergé’s sons, Eugène and Alexander, settled in Paris in the early 1920s and established Fabergé & Cie which traded in and restored Fabergé objects, as well as general jewellery items. After World War II, they learned that Sam Rubin of the United States had established Fabergé Inc. which was selling perfume under the Fabergé name and had registered Fabergé trademarks for jewellery items. In 1945, the brothers initiated legal action against Fabergé Inc. but, unable to afford the protracted and expensive litigation, were forced to settle out of court, ceding the rights to the Fabergé name in 1951 for a mere $25,000. In 1964, Fabergé Inc was sold to a cosmetics company ($26 million), and in 1984 sold again to a clothing company ($180 million), which sold again in 1989 to Unilever ($1.55 billion).
Agathon Fabergé (1876-1951) – Shared the same name as his father's brother. Joined the firm after his namesake's death in 1895. Agathon did not escape with the rest of the family during the Bolshevik Revolution. He was imprisoned until 1921 and finally escaped the country in 1928.
Nicholas Fabergé (1884-1939) – Nicolas was the youngest son, who was sent from St. Petersburg to England to represent the family business in 1903.
Theo Fabergé (1922-2007) – Theo was the only son of Nicolas. Because he was born out of wedlock, he was raised by his aunt not knowing the details of his family's heritage. [ More about Theo Fabergé ]
In January 2007, an investor group Fabergé Ltd. acquired Unilever’s worldwide portfolio of Fabergé trademarks, licences and associated rights with the intent that all future development of the Fabergé name reflects the original heritage of excellence in creativity, design and craftsmanship. Sarah Fabergé (great-granddaughter Peter Carl Fabergé) said "This constitutes the reunification of the House of Fabergé and a new chapter in its history. My father, Theo Fabergé, grandson of Peter Carl Fabergé, passed away on August 20th, 2007. It is poignant that, only days before he died, both he and I entered into the arrangements reuniting the family and the Fabergé name."
More about Fabergé
- A Timeline of the Fabergé Lineage
- Where are the Fabergé Eggs Now?
- A Timeline of the Fabergé Lineage
- History of the Vivian Alexander Forbes Collection
Fabergé in the News
- Historic Reunification of Fabergé Family and Brand Name, October 10, 2007
- The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is Found (and to be sold at Christies), October 9, 2007
- Russian Tycoon Buys Forbes Fabergé Eggs February 4, 2004 | Additional Info
- Fabergé And Forbes: A History Of Collecting