06 June 2017

On the Block: Princess Margaretha's Faberge Brooch

Bruun Rasmussen

Attention lovers of Fabergé: a unique royal brooch made by the firm is about to be sold at auction in Denmark. Here's all the details on the piece, which once belonged to Prince Axel and Princess Margaretha of Denmark...

Bruun Rasmussen

The brooch, which features old mine-cut diamonds and cabochon sapphires set in silver and gold, was made by Edward Schramm at Fabergé's workshop in St. Petersburg ca. 1890s. The jewel is being sold by friends of the late Princess Margaretha of Denmark, wife of Prince Axel. The lot notes from Bruun Rasmussen explain the connection: "Provenance: Member of the Danish Parliament and Chairman of the Handicraft Promotion, Gertie Wandel, née Møller (1894–1988), married to merchant Helge Wandel. In Gentofte, north of Copenhagen, Gertie and Helge Wandel were neighbors to Prince Axel (1888–1964) and Princess Margaretha (1899–1977) of Denmark, and the nearness developed into a close friendship. After the Princess' death her son, Prince George of Denmark (1920–1986), gave the brooch to Gertie Wandel to recall her and Princess Margaretha as two good friends. Thence Gertie Wandel's grandson, who by the way was Prince George's godson, until today."

Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress Bain Collection

How would a Danish prince and his wife, who was born a Swedish princess, get a hold of a Russian-made Fabergé brooch? The auction notes posit a few possible avenues: "The brooch may have come to Prince Axel and Princess Margaretha several ways. Prince Axel was son of Prince Valdemar of Denmark, and thus the [nephew] of Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna and cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Princess Margaretha['s] mother, Princess Ingeborg of Denmark (1878–1958), wife of Prince Carl of Sweden, was the daughter of Frederik VIII and consequently also the niece of Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna and cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia."

Wikipedia/Wartenberg Trust

Princess Margaretha is perhaps the lesser known of a trio of Swedish royal sisters. Her younger sisters were Crown Princess Martha of Norway (mother of the present King of Norway) and Queen Astrid of Belgium (grandmother of the present King of Belgium and the present Grand Duke of Luxembourg). The portrait above was taken during her wedding to Prince Axel in 1919.

Bruun Rasmussen

The brooch will be auctioned on June 9. The estimate for the piece is set at 30,000-50,000 Danish krone, which converts to approximately $4544-7573 USD.