Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Fabergé – Nicholas II’s Frog

Nicholas II’s diaries were more aides-mémoire than I had thought.

In the two-volume published diaries, Nicholas wrote on May 5th, 1894 while in Gatchina that “… I received lovely presents from Papa and Mama …”

I reread last week after twenty years, Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko’s ‘A Lifelong Passion’. In their excerpt for May 5th, 1894 Nicholas wrote “… I have received my birthday presents from dear Papa and Mama and Xenia and Sandro. Two pairs of lovely buttons and a heavenly green stone frog (Fabergé) like those animals Ella had in her saloon in the Schloss! Lots of books besides, that I love so – and some French poetry. Misha also gets his presents on the same day as me, because his birthday and nameday are together on 22 November so it was considered unfair to give him presents only once a year! …”

I was confused as I hadn’t remembered a reference to a Fabergé frog. I then compared the two entries and realized the diaries were abridged for publication. Many have disparaged Nicholas’ diaries yet they are far more informative that previously known. I am curious if the full diary has been typed and available for research.

Fabergé Nephrite Frog (below) c1890 owned by Princess Maria of Greece (1876-1940)

I am reviewing my inventories of the Winter Palace for a Fabergé frog. Did Nicholas keep the frog in the Alexander Palace? Before moving to the Winter Palace on December 31st, 1895 they lived for four months in Tsarskoe Selo and he may have brought his things from Gatchina there.

If the Fabergé frog is today in a museum or privately owned, provenance has been confirmed.

Gustav Fabergé founded the company in 1842 in St. Petersburg (excerpt below)

Photograph (below) of the interior of Fabergé’s store c1842

Fabergé marks (below)


  1. Surely photo #3 wasn't taken anywhere near 1842. Circa 1900 seems a better guess to me.

  2. Thank you for the comment. The photo was captioned as the interior of the first store of Fabergé - I used c1842 from the document. It should be a later year prior to the move on Bolshaya Morskaya. Do you know the approx. date the firm moved to the first location on Bolshaya? I can then edit the date.

  3. The black and white photograph is the ground floor interior of Fabergé's shop at 173 New Bond Street in London. This shop opened in July 1911. (Fabergé in London by Kieran McCarthy, 2017, 33-35)