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    Rare Imperial Russian Fabergé Alexander III 25th Wedding Anniversary Presentation Desk Clock
    Workmaster Ivan Rappaport, St. Petersburg, circa 1891, signed IP, and Fabergé in Cyrillic

    The heart-shaped silver clock engraved in Cyrillic script with the names of the Tsar's Imperial residences Gatchina, Livadia, Tsarskoe (Selo), Anichkov, Peterhof, and Cottage, the top applied with Roman numerals XXV within an openwork ribbon-tied laurelleaf wreath, the base, 28 X (October), enclosing a round white enamel dial with blue chapters, the years (18)66 and (18)91 as twelve o'clock and six o'clock respectively, the numerals one to five replaced by Cyrillic letters M I N N I spelling the Emperor's favorite name for the Empress, with the balance of the chapters represented by the first Cyrillic letter of each of their children's names: N G K M O, for Nicholas, George, Xenia, Michael, and Olga, within a raised laurel border, the silver strut forming the Tsar's initial A, the 8-day movement signed by Moser, with attached key on chain-5 1/2 in. high

    Alexander III and Maria Fedorovna

    The last Tsar to carry out his full reign, Alexander III ruled Russia from 1881 to 1894. Alexander acceded to the throne on March 14, 1881, a day after the assassination of his father, Emperor Alexander II, by a terrorist's bomb. Having inherited the Romanov crown in turbulent circumstances, Alexander III ruled his empire with an iron hand. Yet although he reversed some of his more liberal predecessor's reforms, he was not a blind reactionary. Alexander's thirteen-year reign witnessed the beginnings of industrialization, healthy state finances, and the start of the Trans-Siberian Railway. More important, the Emperor also restored his realm's stature as a great power after humiliating military and diplomatic defeats in the previous decades. Dubbed the "Tsar Peacemaker" (tsar mirotvorets), Alexander was the only Romanov monarch for well over a century not to have seen his soldiers at war.

    With a powerful six-foot physique, stern blue-gray eyes, and a full, black beard, Alexander III fully personified the mighty Russian autocracy. His strength was such that he entertained his guests by bending horseshoes and iron pokers. When at one state dinner the Austrian Ambassador hinted that his emperor might mobilize two or three army corps on Russia's border to resolve a quarrel in the Balkans, Alexander calmly picked up a silver fork, tied it into a knot and placed it on the startled diplomat's plate, adding, "This is how I will deal with your corps." A man of simple tastes, the tsar preferred the amusements of the hunt and the parlor to the more lavish pleasures of the St Petersburg court. Remarkably for a highborn Russian, Alexander was also utterly devoted to his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna.

    Born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the future Tsarina had been intended for Alexander's older brother, Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich. However, the Tsarevich fell mortally ill, and on his deathbed is said to have placed his fiancée's hand in his brother's, commanding him to love her. Now the heir to the throne, Alexander III carried out the will, and the two were wed on November 9, 1866. By all accounts, the imperial couple enjoyed a harmonious and loving marriage. Maria presented her husband with five children, including the future Tsar Nicholas II.

    The Empress was very careful not openly to interfere in politics. At the same time, she was the only person in Russia the Tsar allowed to influence his rule. It was partly at her urging that Alexander concluded the military alliance with the French Republic in 1894, a step that transformed European diplomacy.

    Maria Fedorovna was much loved by her adopted subjects. The petite, dark-haired monarch was blessed with an out-going, gay temperament and easily made friends in St. Petersburg's notoriously venomous haute monde. Unlike her austere husband, Marie adored the glittering nightlife of the Imperial capital. By tradition, any ball she attended began with a lively mazurka, her favorite dance. Although she typically had a handsome young guards officer as her partner, her private life was irreproachable.

    Despite his frugal ways, Alexander never stinted in presenting jewelry to his adored consort. Among the Empress's favorites was an imposing necklace with no less than nine strands of large pearls, all perfect in color and shape, held together with diamond fleur-de-lis clasps.

    On the same silver wedding anniversary, the Imperial couple received from various relatives another silver clock by Fabergé that was massive, sculptural, and imposing. This understated Fabergé timepiece, privately commissioned by the Emperor for his wife symbolized their enduring love on a far more personal level.

    Fabergé workmaster Julius Rappaport

    Julius Rappaport (1851-1917) joined the House of Fabergé around 1890 and became Head Silver Workmaster of the St. Petersburg workshop. An excellent silversmith specializing in silver-mounted items in the classical style, the Imperial family entrusted Rappaport with the most important commissions. At the 1900 Paris World Exhibition, Rappaport won the Grand Prize for his famous miniature recreations of the Imperial regalia. Along with headworkmaster Michael Perchin and his successor, Henrik Wigström, Rappaport was the only Fabergé workmaster in St. Petersburg to produce clocks for the Imperial Family.

    Presented by Tsar Alexander III (r. 1881-1894) to his wife Maria Fedorovna on the occasion of their Silver Wedding Anniversary celebrated on October 28, 1891.

    Purchased from A la Vieille Russie

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2008
    24th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,232

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    While I regret my inability to personally view the work, you provided an excellent substitute for my not being able to do so, and I look forward to future Heritage auctions.
    Allan Rappaport,
    Tiburon, CA
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