Extraordinarily Rare Photographic Record of the Russian Crown JewelsAleksander Evgenevich Fersman (editor). Russia's Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones. Moscow: The People's Commissariat of Finances, 1925.
First and only edition in English. Folio. Complete set of 100 unbound phototype plates with captioned tissue guards (all still attached). Plates measure 307 x 395 mm. Includes the descriptive text volumes dated 1926 for parts II, III and IV (missing text volume in part I).
Parts I-IV, with each part in an individual cream paper portfolio, housed together in the original issue crimson and brown thick portfolio with string ties intact. Small stamp reading "Printed in the Soviet Union" on an inner flap of the portfolio. Rubbing and soiling to the portfolio, with a previous reference sticker from the Arthur A. Everts Co., a renowned Dallas jeweler, affixed to the front cover. Parts portfolios with minor edge wear and toning, minimal corner wear and thumb-soiling, with two small closed tears along the spine of Part III. Light thumb-soiling to text volumes. A handful of tissue guards with minor fold creasing and small tears. Minimal edge wear to a couple of plates, otherwise, they are in superb condition. An extraordinarily rare work in near fine condition.
The monumental task of listing and photographing the Russian crown jewels began in 1922, and this epic work was the result. Compiled with the help of S. N. Troinitsky, the director of the Hermitage Museum, and a committee of expert jewelers, Russia's Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones was published in 1925 in English, French and Russian, and stands as the only complete record of the treasures of the Romanov Dynasty before their mysterious dispersal through private sale and a subsequent auction two years later. Shortly after publication, this very work was swiftly recalled by the Soviet government, who destroyed the copies they received or bought back. As such, it is an exceedingly rare work in any of the three languages, and much desired by gemologists, jewelers, and historians.
"One of the very few surviving catalogs promoting the sale of Russia's crown jewels. Published in 1925 by A. E. Fersman for the Bolshevik government, it is among the most thorough inventories of Czarist treasures in existence. Russia's crown jewels were later removed from the market and only a few were sold" (Gemological Institute of America website, describing the copy in the John & Marjorie Sinkankas Collection).
"The collection of Romanoff Crown Jewels dates back to the Sixteenth Century, when the early Czars, proud of their power, were fascinated by the splendor of parading about in jeweled robes wearing diamond-studded crowns. However, it was not until the reign of Catherine the Great that the Russian collection of jewels reached its greatest proportion. Catherine sent her agents abroad to purchase the largest and finest diamonds and emeralds in the world.... Soon after the beginning of the War in 1914 the Imperial Cabinet decided it was safer to remove the Crown Jewels to Moscow, which is much farther inland than St. Petersburg. Nine huge strong boxes, crammed full of these priceless gems, were stored in a special vault in the 'Armory Hall of the Kremlin.' During the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequently until 1922 this treasure remained untouched, continuously guarded by a detachment of Red soldiers. In April, 1922, a commission was appointed to take inventory by the Soviet Government. This commission consisted of such prominent persons as A. Orechnikov, curator of the Moscow Museum, A. E. Fersman, professor of the Academy of Science, and A. Fabergé [son of the former court jeweler, Carl Fabergé]...Some idea of the size of the Romanoff Collection may be obtained from the following figures given out by the commission; diamonds, 25,300 carats; pearls, 6,000; emeralds, 3,200; sapphires, 2,600, and rubies, 1,500 carats" (Armand Hammer: The Quest of the Romanoff Treasure, pp. 222-224).
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