Faberge Elephant Auctioned in Melbourne

A carved miniature elephant by Faberge c.1900 discovered in Australia achieved an astounding $52,800 when it was auctioned in Melbourne recently by Bonhams & Goodman’s.

With a pre-sale estimate of $12,000-16,000, the final result was a welcome surprise for the vendor whose grandfather had acquired the miniature whilst in India or travelling from India to England. He was in service in various vice regal households in both India and South Africa in the 20’s and 30’s. It is believed he brought it home to the UK circa 1934 and gave it to his wife at that time.

pink-elephant.jpgThe rare object is tiny, measuring just 2cm in length. Made from carved rhodonite, it has rose cut diamond set eyes. It was sold with its original fitted Hollywood case by Faberge.

With the Russian market exploding in the last few years, the elephant was expected to attract good interest but the level of interest surprised Sedgwick who based her estimate on a similar lot sold by Bonhams, London in April 2005 for £4,500. This example was made of purpurine and whilst the same size and in the original Hollywood case, was not in perfect condition, the trunk was broken and had been replaced with a gold one.

Interest in the star lot came from absentee and telephone bids – two from overseas and two local collectors. Bidding opened at $12,000 with an absentee bid and remained enthusiastic until the hammer fell at $44,000 ($52,800 including buyer’s premium).

“One of the most exciting aspects of my job is coming across rare treasures like this,” says Patricia Sedgwick, Head of the Jewellery Department in Melbourne. “Piecing together the provenance of this beautiful piece and learning about how it found its way from Russia to Australia has been fascinating. It’s not often that Faberge pieces show up here”.

Faberge is noted for his miniature animal sculptures, many of which are in important collections all around the world, including that of King George VI of England. The sculptures are made from many different precious and semi-precious materials including rock crystal, smoky topaz, nephrite, lapis lazuli, bloodstone, agate, jadeite and Siberian jade, which were sourced from all over the world.

The sale of the precious elephant further cements Bonhams & Goodman’s reputation as Australia’s leading jewellery auctioneer. The firm’s next fine jewellery auction is scheduled to take place in Sydney on Monday 30 June and collectors will once again have the opportunity to acquire some very important pieces.

Auction info www.bonhamsandgoodman.com.au

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