These charming elephants were undoubtedly inspired by the Order of the Elephant, the highest order of chivalry in Denmark. The order is of ancient origin, but was instituted in its current form in 1693 by King Christian V. The Danish monarch is the head of the order; other members of the Royal family are entitled to wear the order, which can also be bestowed on foreign monarchs and heads of state.
The relationship between Russia and Denmark was strengthened in 1866 by the marriage of Tsar Alexander III to Princess Dagmar of Denmark. In 1892 the couple ordered from Fabergé a kovsh with a finial in the form of the Order of the Elephant as a gift to Princess Dagmar's parents King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark in honour of theirgolden wedding anniversary.
The badge of the order is an elephant, traditionally made of white-enamelled gold supporting a watch tower in front of which sits a Moor holding a golden spear, on the right side of the elephant there is a cross of diamonds and on the left the elephant bears the monogram of the bestowing monarch.
Other examples of these models include one in the Wernher collection at Luton Hoo, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, Fabergé, Munich, Kunsthalle of the Hypo-Kulturstiftung, 1986-1987, p. 201, pl. 348 and another example is in the collection of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, illustrated in C. de Guitaut, Fabergé in the Royal Collection, London, 2003, p. 100, no. 115.