by Caren Crane (title by my older daughter)
Easter is the time for eggs. Hand-tinted hard-boiled eggs, chocolate covered marshmallow eggs, candy-coated sugar-centered eggs, and - my favorite - good old pure chocolate eggs. As a matter of fact, I had planned to do a whole post about candy eggs for today, but my husband had a totally different idea (as he so often does). He said I should write about Faberge Easter eggs.
I have long been fascinated by Faberge eggs and it seems many other people are as well. PBS did a great program about the Faberge eggs as part of their
Treasures Of the World series. In the series, they presented the Faberge eggs as the relics of a fragile and doomed monarchy. They are regarded today as a symbol of just how out-of-touch the monarchy was and how little they understood the needs of the people they ruled. I found out my husband really wanted me to find out why Peter Carl Faberge began making Easter eggs in the first place. So I did and here is the quick and dirty version.
The Russian Orthodox church had a tradition that after Easter mass, family members would present each other with eggs they had decorated. The first egg commissioned by Czar Alexander III was a gift for the Czarina, commemorating the 20th anniversary of their monarchy on Easter in 1884. After his death in 1894, Czar Nicholas II (knowing only to follow the traditions of his much-beloved father) continued all of his father's traditions including the commission of the eggs.
Of course, the monarchy failed in 1917 and the Romanovs were all killed...except for the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna, who hastily departed her homeland on the British battleship Malborough. She took with her the Order of St. George egg - the last Faberge Imperial Easter egg. The entrepreneur and socialist sympathizer Armand Hammer brought many great Russian treasures to the United States to be sold to support the Bolsheviks in 1931. Unfortunately, the Great Depression made selling them difficult. Eventually, though, they caught on with several great collectors and many are in private art collections today.
Of the 50 Imperial Easter eggs, only 10 remain in the Kremlin. Eight of the eggs are still missing, having disappeared during the sacking of the royal palaces during the revolution.
So what do you think happened to those 8 missing eggs? Are they hidden in humble homes in the Russian countryside? Resting in vaults of wealthy art collectors who bought them on the black market? As symbols of a decadent and lavish lifestyle that led to the downfall of Imperial Russia, should they be handed over to the Russian government? When you finish nibbling the ears off your chocolate bunny, let us know!