2644 Webpv Faberge Dormouse V2 22 05 24

Fabergé dormouse made from agate with silver whiskers and gold hay, estimate £80,000-120,000 at Elmwood’s.

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It’s not often such a rare collection of Fabergé animals unexpectantly come to sale but at Elmwood’s in London on Thursday, May 30, that is exactly what collectors have the chance to bid on.

Each of the 20 Fabergé animals are carved from semi-precious or hardstones and embellished in jewels and precious metals – many of them in their original cases.

The current owner acquired 19 of the 20 lots since June 2020 at auctions including at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Lot 7, a c.1900 silver and gold mounted 6.5cm agate model of a dormouse, was bought for £234,000 in November 2021 but carries an £80,000-120,000 estimate in this sale. 

Fabergé animals have had some very notable admirers over the years. In 1907, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra commissioned a complete Fabergé set of all the animals on their Sandringham estate. The Sandringham commission is the largest collection of Fabergé hardstone animal carvings in the world.

In fact, three of the animals in the sale on May 30 have originated from the collection of the Russian Imperial family (lots 4, 11 and 18).

Fabergé animals also have an excellent track record at auction. In November 2021, an 86-lot collection belonging to businessman Harry Woolf sold at Christie’s for over double the overall estimate. In the same month, a carved figure of a T-Rex sold for £50,000 at a US regional auction.

The reason for this sudden sale in terms of the comparatively short length of time since the works were purchased is unclear. Elmwood’s disclosed that the owner is a British private collector. The seller said: “This collection has been amassed through a pure love of Fabergé’s inimitable animals – for their craftsmanship, quality and the unique personalities that they convey.

“While I’m sad to be parting with them, I hope that they will go on to be treasured in the same way as I have loved them over the last eight years.”