Hanson described the discovery as his “most significant find ever”.
The precious metal and hardstone botanical studies, made c.1907-10, were offered at an evening sale on June 11 at Hansons’ London sale venue, the Normansfield Theatre in Teddington where auctions were launched earlier this year by the Derbyshire firm.
“It was totally unexpected – as the best finds always are,” Hanson told ATG. “A client came along to our office in East Molesey carrying a cardboard box. Inside, wrapped in an old tea towel, was not one, but two, Fabergé flowers.”
Only about 80 Fabergé botanical studies are known.
At the auction, the two lots fetched a combined £340,000 with both flowers knocked down to the same private buyer on the phone. The white flower ornament sold for £180,000 and the red berries fetched £160,000.
Hanson, a regular face on TV programmes including Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, paid tribute to the craftsmanship inherent in the 6in (15cm) high flowers.
“These are 'objets de fantaisie’, simply made for guests to admire,” he said.
According to Franz Birbaum, Fabergé’s senior designer from 1896, this genre was inspired by Chinese art and came to Peter Carl Fabergé’s attention when the firm was called upon to repair a bunch of chrysanthemums from the palace of the Chinese Emperor.
“The Fabergé barberry bush with purpurine berries and jade leaves demonstrates breathtaking luxury,” said Hanson. “It’s chased and engraved gold stem sits within a carved rock crystal vase appearing to be half full of water. It is extraordinarily delicate with rich, soft red berries so real they could drop any time on ripening .
“The other Fabergé flower takes the form of a highly naturalistic morning glory blossom on a jade jardinière and aventurine quartz stand. The gold flowers, enamelled white with shades of pale pink and lilac, are inset with 'dew drops' of diamonds. A bud is bursting to open and flower. The leaves are carved Siberian jade nephrite.”