RUSSIAN WORKS OF ART
The unique and only ones preserved parts of the Neo-gothic Fabergé silver tableware
commissioned by Alexander and Barbara Kelch – one of the most important Fabergé′s Patrons.
Marks: Fabergé with the Imperial Warrant, assay mark of Moscow 1896-1908.
Silver 84. The serving knife: lenght: 331 mm, weight: 232 g. The smaller knife: lenght: 221 mm, weight: 97 g.
Two fish knives. The smaller of them is a table knife, and the larger one is a serving knife for fish. The knives are decorated in Gothic style. They have richly ornamented handles with the main ornamental themes and symbols identifying the tableware. The ornamental themes are also found on the blades of both knives.
The knife handles have an angular shape. In their terminal part, they are decorated with a concave theme of a Gothic arcade. The front side of the handle has a relief in the form of a crown-topped shield with a monogram in the form of the letter ‘K’ and a scarf. In addition, the handle’s terminal part has decoration underlining its edges. The lower part of the handle has an ornament in the form of a lily. The rear part of the handle is more humble. Its decoration consists of a Gothic arcade and two lilies. The fastening of the knife blades is shaped in the form of ornamental rings. The knife blades have sophisticated shapes. Their surface is decorated with an engraved decoration in the form of a shaped arcade frieze topped with a floral theme.
“It has been one of the most important silver orders we have executed.”
“This was one of the most famous and admired works made by Fabergé and also most expensive work ever created in Fabergé’s workshop.”
Adam Szymański PhD
Art Historian. The discoverer of the
surviving parts of the Kelch′s silverware
1-7. Parts of the Kelch’s Neo-gothic silver service.
• WORLD-CLASS WORK OF ART. Kelch’s tableware is a world-class jewellery masterpiece. Its artistic and historical value is comparable to the famous Fabergé eggs.
• THE MOST IMPORTANT FABERGÉ ACHIEVEMENT. In 1937 Evgeni Fabergé described the Kelch’s tableware as “the most important silver work”, that have ever been created in the Fabergé’s workshop. These words clearly demonstrate the highest artistic and historical value of Kelch’s tableware.
• THE MOST EXPENSIVE FABERGÉ WORK. The Kelch’s tableware is the most expensive work, that have ever been created in the Fabergé’s workshop. In 1900 the silver tableware cost 125 thousand Rubles. At that time one Fabergé egg cost only 6 thousand Rubles. It means, that Kelch’s tableware cost as much as 26 Fabergé eggs made for the tsar in 1885-1902. Nowadays one Fabergé egg costs about 30 million $, so the price of 26 Fabergé eggs is higher than 900 million $. This comparison shows the exceptional and unique value of the Kelch’s tableware.
• VERY RARE STYLE. The Kelch’s tableware was made in the neo-Gothic style. It is the rarest style in Fabergé achievements. The Fabergé’s works in the neo-Gothic style we can find in only five collections in the world.
• THE UNIQUE WORK OF ART. The research of the history of the Kelch’s tableware confirmed, that it had been melted down in 1918. The two knives from the Kelch’s tableware, that were found, are the only one preserved parts of the Kelch’s tableware. There are about 90 Fabergé eggs in the world and only one Kelch’s tableware. Only one collector in the world can own this unique work of art.
• FAMOUS WORK OF ART. Since the Kelch’s tableware has been created, it was famous and admired. At the Fabergé exhibition organized in St. Petersburg in 1902 the Kelch’s tableware was presented on a special table in one room. The information about the discovery of the parts of the Kelch’s tableware Poland, was presented in the media all over the world (about 700 newspapers and web portals).
• SHOWN IN BOOKS. The photographs depicting the Kelch’s tableware, taken in 1902 are presented in almost every book about Fabergé. It means, that the Kelch’s tableware is presented in books more often than some Fabergé eggs.
• THE GREAT INVESTMENT. The unique, most important achievements and rarest Fabergé works are becoming more expensive every year. According to calculations, their value grows about the 1000% within 5 years. Only one preserved parts of the greatest Fabergé masterpiece – is the best investment.
• Commisioned by russian milionaire Alexander Kelch and his wife Barbara nee Bazanowa in 1900.
• Confiscated by the Bolsheviks during the October revolution. 1918.
• A. Sokolov. Soviet soldier or police officer. Moscow 1918.
• J. Wolsky. Polish doctor from a noble family. Warsaw circa 1921-1922. Later his heirs.
• Private Polish collector. 2016
• Private collection in the EU territory (Berlin).
• H. Bainbridge, Peter Karl Fabergé. Goldsmiths and Jeweller to the Russian Imperial Court, Spring Books, London – New York – Sydney – Toronto 1972, s. 58-59.
• G. v. Habsburg, A. v. Solodkoff, Fabergé. Court Jeweler to the Tsars, New York 1979, s. 134.
• G. v. Habsburg, Fabergé. Treasures of Imperial Russia, The Link of Times Foundation, 2004, s. 294-295, 318-319.
• T. Fabergé, E-A. Kohler, V. Scurlov (red.), Fabergé. A comprehensive reference book, Slatkine 2012, s. 469-473.
• RGIA, f. 1102, op. 2, d. 599. Private documents Kelch family 1845—1916.
• Birbaum Memoirs, [in:] G. v. Habsburg, M. Lopato, Fabergé. Imperial jeweller, Washington 1993, s. 454.
• Tableware designs. Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow, inv. 2486/33.
• Original photos of Faberge 1900 (approximately 30 pieces). Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation.
MEDIA (the most important articles)
NEWS AGENCY: AFP, TASS, PAP, AGER PRESS.
• ТАСС – Польский ученый утверждает, что нашел ножи работы Фаберже из пропавшей коллекции. [LINK]
• IA NEWS – Польский ученый нашел часть пропавшего сервиза работы Фаберже. [LINK]
• EURONEWS – Deux couteaux de Fabergé réapparaissent après un siècle. [LINK]
• LE FIGARO. Culture – Un siècle plus tard, deux couteaux de Fabergé ressurgissent du passé. [LINK]
• LE POINT – Deux couteaux de Fabergé réapparaissent après un siècle. [LINK]
• FRANCE TV INFO. Culturebox – Deux rares couteaux de Fabergé découverts en Pologne. [LINK]
• ONET – Bezcenny skarb Fabergé odnaleziony w Polsce. [LINK]
• TVN 24 – Arcydzieło Fabergé odnalezione w Polsce. Dwa noże z bezcennej kolekcji. [LINK]
• TVP (Polish Television/Teleexpress) – Noże Faberge. [LINK]
• GAZETA WYBORCZA – Tajemnica smoczej zastawy. Jak skarb od Fabergé odnalazł się w polskiej szufladzie. [LINK]
• DAILYMAIL – Long-lost Faberge silver knives worth £1million resurface in Poland. [LINK]
• ART DAILY – Long-lost Faberge silver knives resurface in Poland. [LINK]
• THE HINDU – Long-lost Faberge knives found! [LINK]
• RTS – Пронађени изгубљени Фабержеови ножеви. [LINK] • ARCHEOLOGY & ARTS – Δύο μαχαίρια Φαμπερζέ εμφανίστηκαν ξανά, 100 χρόνια μετά. [LINK]
WIKIPEDIA: RUS [LINK], ENG [LINK].
8. Design and parts of the Kelch’s Neo-gothic silver service.
KELCHS AND HIS MANSION IN ST. PETERSBURG
This extraordinary tableware was made for Alexander Kelch and his wife Barbara Bazanova. Its creation is related to the construction and decoration of the interior in the Kelch mansion in St. Petersburg at 28 Siergiejewska Street. [fig. 9]
The mansion’s facade was built in the style of French Renaissance with Baroque elements. Its style corresponds to the grand staircase. The representative rooms in the mansion were located on the first floor. The following stood out: the Baroque White Room, the office of Alexander Kelch arranged in the spirit of Dutch Baroque as well as the magnificent Gothic dining room. [fig. 10-13] The style and the decor of the dining room are inseparably associated with the style and the decoration of the Kelch silver tableware.
The decor of the dining room includes the following themes: lily, monograms, crowns, dragons and coats of arms in many places. [fig. 13,36] These themes were repeated in the decor of the representative Gothic tableware.
The tableware was designed in 1900 by distinguished Russian architect Fedor Shekhtel who cooperated with Fabergé on a permanent basis. The tableware was made in a Moscow branch of Fabergé’s company. Alexander paid the astounding sum of 125,000 rubles for the tableware. Alexander and Barbara Kelch wanted the tableware to be made by Fabergé because they admired and appreciated the works coming from his workshop. At that time, Barbara had already had at least three Easter gifts in the form of eggs made by Fabergé, the so-called Fabergé eggs: Hen Egg, The 12 panel Egg and The Pine Cone Egg.
In 1905 Barbara left Alexander and moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow. She took money, jewelry and the most valuable works of art, including the tableware and a collection of Fabergé eggs. Soon, she also left Russia for good and came to live in Paris. It appears that the tableware remained in Moscow and most likely was located in the Bazanov mansion at Mokhovaya Street.
According to the consensus of historians, the tableware was melted down in 1918 in the turbulent period of the October Revolution. The value of silver used to make the tableware was higher than the work itself during the revolution and the economic crisis. Since then, for the next 100 years, there was no information about the Kelch tableware, and no part of this tableware appeared on the antique shop market or in known collections.
In 2016, two knives from the Kelch tableware were found in a private collection in Poland. It turned out, that in 1918 knives were rescued by the Russian soldier (or police officer), who, according to the records, participated in confiscation of Kelch’s art treasures and, after that, in their destruction. He was also supposed to be a witness of melting down the Kelch tableware. In 1921 or 1922 the rescued knives were sold to the Polish doctor and they belonged to the polish noble family, the Wolskys. After the doctor’s death the knives were inherited by his heirs. In 2015 and again in 2016 the knives were sold. In January 2017 the knives were discovered and identified by Adam Szymański, PhD.
Nowadays, the knives are in a private collection in the EU territory.
9. Kelch mansion in St. Petersburg.
10-12. The dining room in Kelch mansion.
13. Dragon. Detail of the decoration.
The sideboard in the dining room in the Kelch mansion
14. Sideboard in the dining room in the Kelch mansion.
15-16. Dining room. About 1905.
STAINED GLASS IN THE DINING ROOM
17. Alexander and Barbara Kelch.
18. Barbara Kelch (with daughter Julia).
FABERGÉ EGGS BELONGING TO BARBARA KELCH
FABERGÉ EXHIBITION 
The best known photographs showing the tableware are photographs made during a charity exhibition of Fabergé works organized in 1902 in St. Petersburg in Baron Paul von Dervies’ mansion. A considerable part of the Kelch tableware was presented on a special table in one room during the exhibition. A surtout de table richly decorated with flowers, two candlesticks and high epergnes, next to which serving platters, bowls as well as plates and cutlery in a set for 12 people were presented in the middle of the table. [fig. 19-21]
19-21. Exhibition of Fabergé artistic objects. March 1902
THE PROJECTS OF THE SILVER SERVICE 
We may also learn about the Kelch Gothic tableware from a preserved set of designs made by Fedor Shekhtel in 1900. These designs may be found in the collections of the Schusev State Museum of Architecture in Moscow. The collection consists of 15 photographs of drawings showing single dishes included in the tableware. [fig. 22-27] They include designs of the largest and the most representative parts of the tableware, including the surtout de table, candle holders for 7 candles as well as high epergnes. The remaining designs show soup tureens with covers, serving platters for meat and fish, gravy boats, a cruet set and glass bowls set in silver.
22-27. Design of the Kelch′s silver tableware made by Fedor Shekhtel. Moscow 1900.
COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS BY FABERGÉ′S
The third source of information about the Kelch’s tableware is a relatively unknown collection of photographs taken by Fabergé’s employees in order to document the achievements of the workroom. The collection comprises approximately 30 photographs. [fig. 28-33] They are the property of the Fabergé family and remain at the disposal of the Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation. They present all the major parts of tableware, e.g. surtout de table, high cake stands, platters, bowls, soup tureens, saucepans, trays, plates, spice box, salt cellars and other smaller items, as well as cutlery: fork, spoon and table knife. These pictures show very well the characteristic style and decorations of the tableware.
28-33. Original Fabergé′s photographs showing the Kelch’s tableware. 1900.
Analysis of the cutlery decoration
A decoration of the artefacts is identical to the one of the cutlery presented on a photographs preserved in the Fabergé family’s collections and made during a exhibition in 1902 in St. Petersburg. [fig. 34]
According to Bainbridge, Barbara Kelch wanted her Gothic tableware to match to the style and the decoration of the dining room in the mansion in Saint Petersburg. The discovered parts of Kelch’s silver service are decorated with the characteristic letter “K” with a line on top, which also decorates the wall in dinning room between stain glass portraits of Alexander and Barbara Kelch. [fig. 36] The Identical letter occurred in other parts of the Kelch’s silver service. [fig. 32]
A historical, stylistic and formal analysis of the recovered relics confirms that they are part of the famous, lost Gothic tableware of Alexander and Barbara Kelch made by Fabergé. This is indicated by a number of premises, such as the style of the work, the authorship, the time of creation as well as the ornamental themes. The works in Gothic style are very rare in Fabergé’s oeuvre. There was only one Gothic tableware among all works made in Fabergé’s workshop, and it was the Kelch tableware.
34. Analysis of the cutlery decoration.
35. The cutlery shown in the picture from 1902.
36. Letter „K” as a decorative element of mansion and cutlery.