A Fabergé silver-mounted clay brick match-holder, Workmaster: Julius Rappaport, St. Petersburg, circa 1895
This object, or one identical to it, is illustrated in Fabergé's 1899 Moscow catalogue, number 58, page 44 (see illustration). A very similar match-holder, mounted with a silver figure identified as Cupid, appears in the 1893 catalogue, number 109, page 36.
Other examples of brick match-holders, all supplied by the Gusareva factory, are mounted in a variety of ways and exemplify Fabergé's inventiveness and creativity with even the most ordinary material. The British Royal Collection includes three examples, all acquired by King Edward VII. One is mounted with a silver-gilt kneeling putto by Rappaport (RCIN 8338), another with jewelled gold snakes by Erik Kollin (RCIN 8337), and a third mounted in silver-gilt with cloisonné enamel and turquoises (RCIN 50723) although, as the mounts of the latter are unmarked, the Royal Collection does not attribute it to Fabergé. Another brick is mounted by Rappaport with a neoclassical silver base rim on four lion corner supports; see Christie's London, 6 October 1988, lot 201. A silver snake-mounted brick by Kollin, formerly in the Collection of Princess Maria von Baden sold, Sotheby's London, 26 May 2004, lot 420. Finally, another Kolin example, with Etruscan-style silver handles and chased masks of bearded satyrs is illustrated, K. Snowman, Carl Fabergé, 1979, p. 46, and G. von Habsburg, Fabergé: Hofjuwelier der Zaren, 1986, no. 38, p. 110. All of these objects provide a clever means by which to celebrate the Russian brick-making industry, of which the country was especially proud.
The satyr Marsyas, son of Olympus, took the aulos, or double flute, from Minerva, its inventor, after she tossed it aside because it made her cheeks bulge when she played. Marsyas challenged Apollo, who played the lyre, to a musical contest and after losing was skinned alive, the event depicted in Titian's The Flaying of Marsyas (c. 1570).