Bay Tree (Fabergé egg)

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Bay Tree Fabergé egg
The Bay tree egg.jpg
Year delivered1911
CustomerTsar Nicholas II
RecipientDowager Empress Maria Feodorovna
Current owner
Individual or institutionThe Link of Times Foundation, Russia
Year of acquisition2004
Design and materials
Materials usedGold, green and white enamel, nephrite, diamonds, rubies, amethysts, citrines, pearls and white onyx
Height27.3 cm when closed, 30 cm when opened
SurpriseFeathered songbird

The Bay Tree egg (also known as the Orange Tree egg) is a jewelled nephrite and enameled Easter egg made under the supervision of the Russian jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé in 1911,[1] for Nicholas II of Russia who presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, on 12 April 1911.[2]

Its 1911 counterpart, presented to the Empress, is the Fifteenth Anniversary egg.


Turning a tiny lever disguised as a fruit, hidden among the leaves of the bay tree, activates the hinged circular top of the tree and a feathered songbird rises and flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings.[1]


Based on an 18th-century French mechanical orange tree,[3] it was incorrectly labeled as an orange tree for some time, but was confirmed as a bay tree after the original invoice from Fabergé was examined. Fabergé charged 12,800 rubles for the egg.[1]

In 1917 the egg was confiscated by the Russian Provisional Government and moved from the Anichkov Palace to the Kremlin,[1] it was sold to Emanuel Snowman of the jewellers Wartski around 1927.[1]

In 1934 Wartski sold it to Allan Gibson Hughes for £950, buying it back from his estate in 1939 after his death; the egg has a fitted case inscribed with the initials A. G. H. which is probably attributable to this period of ownership.[4]

In 1947 it was sold by Sotheby's in London for £1,650 and then passed through several different owners, ending with Mrs. Mildred Kaplan, she sold it to Malcolm Forbes in 1965 for $35,000, equivalent to $212,634 at the time of the 2004 sale of the Forbes Collection to Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg purchased some nine Imperial eggs, as part of the collection, for almost $100 million [5]

The egg is now part of the Victor Vekselberg Collection, owned by The Link of Times Foundation and housed in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

See also[edit]