The Imperial Russian Court and more especially under the reign of Nicholas II was most reknown amongst the European Courts, for its lavish and expensive gifts to foreign dignitaries coming to Russia.
The responsibility of purchasing and allocationg these gifts, under the strict supervision of the Tsar, was given to the Imperial Cabinet which was keeping a number of well detailed ledgers.
These ledgers contain the description of each item, its cost, the name of the Court supplier and the name of the recipient.
Thanks to the laborous research of Valentin Skurlov, our consultant in St. Petersburg, we are now able to trace the full background of one of the Faberg Imperial presentation snuff boxes which were the most coveted items amongst the Imperial gifts.
In fact, having been awarded the title of Court jeweller in 1884, Faberg became one of the main suppliers of the Imperial Cabinet.
The present Imperial presentation snuff-box was purchased from Faberg in St. Petersburg for a cost of 2000 rubles and was entered under the number 47 in one of the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet. It is interesting to notice that five other Imperial presentation boxes were purchased on the same date from Faberg as well for the total cost of 12065 roubles.
To underline the cost of such boxes, it is worth notice that the two Imperial Easter eggs produced in 1902 by Faberg for Nicholas II were payed for 6000 rubles and 8760 rubles.
On 21 February 1902, the above snuffbox was re-registered under number 171 and described as transformed and embellished by the jeweller Hahn from snuff-box with precious stones. It was after delivered to the Emperor who then presented to Lon Bourgeois.
Faberg Imperial presentation snuff-boxes were purchased by the Imperial Cabinet as unfinished, that is the cartouche on the cover was unmounted and therefore was able to contain either the cypher or the miniature portrait of the Emperor Nicholas, as he wished.
It appears looking at the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet that this peculiar task of setting the cartouche of these Imperial presentation boxes was almost the exclusive privilege of teh St. Petersburg jeweller Hahn.
Lon Bourgeois (1851-1925) was one of the most prominent French statesmen during the Third Republique in France. Prefet de Police in 1887, member of several goverments as minister of foreign affairs. In 1902, he went to Russia to prepare the State visit of the French president of the Republique Emile Loubet.
We are most grateful to Valentin Skurlov for the above information.
Description of the items Amount Where they went Amount
Snuff-boxes with cypher
OF HIS MAJESTY
171 21 Feb 1902 2999 21 Feb 1902 2999 Transformed and to the French
embellished by Hahn citizen
from snuff-box with Lon Bourgeois
with precious stones