Lot 420
  • 420

An Imperial Presentation jewelled gold and enamel box, Carl Blank for Hahn, St Petersburg, 1899-1908

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
425,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • gold, enamel, diamonds
oval, the lid applied with the diamond-set crowned cypher of Emperor Nicholas II on a royal blue translucent enamel ground over concentric wavy engine-turning within seed pearls, the scarlet red border applied with diamond-set intertwining gold laurel and ribbon, the sides and base of blue enamel, struck with workmaster's initials and K.Hahn in Cyrillic, 56 standard


Presented by Emperor Nicholas II
Sotheby's New York, 8 December 1992, lot 184


Illustrated, G. von Habsburg, Fabergé: Imperial Craftsman and his World, London, 2000, cat. no. 907, p. 336

Catalogue Note

This Imperial Presentation snuff box is one of 26 with the cypher of Emperor Nicholas II supplied by Hahn to the Imperial Cabinet between 1899 and 1904 which ranged in cost from 650 to 1,832 rubles (see U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, p. 181).  Of these, six are recorded in the Cabinet ledgers as being of blue enamel.  The recipients of these were mostly Privy or State Counsellors, their ranks ranging from Class III to Class V.  (For an overview of the Table of Ranks, please see ibid., pp. 9-11.)

Other Hahn/Blank cypher boxes from this period include the blue and pink enamel box, its lid engraved with the details of its presentation to the Bulgarian minister Dimitri Stancioff in 1899, which sold, Christie’s New York, 20 May 2015, lot 22; the yellow and white box, its recipient unidentified, which sold, Christie’s London, 28 May 2012, lot 218; and the blue and yellow box now in the Royal Collection, its original recipient also unknown, which Queen Mary purchased in 1934 and gave to King George V (RCIN 19121).  A non-Imperial Hahn/Blank box similar to the present lot, of the same form and with the same red border, its lid enamelled in pale yellow and centred with a flower basket, sold, Sotheby’s Geneva, 15 November 1988, lot 193.

The jeweller Karl August Ferdinand Hahn, an Austrian by birth, founded his company in 1873.  He became an important supplier to the Imperial Court, awarded the distinction of ‘Purveyor to the Court’ during the reign of Alexander III.  Although less venerated than Fabergé, Hahn’s production was also of the finest quality and similarly prized by members of the Imperial Family.  It was Hahn who created Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s coronation crown in 1896, invoiced at 76,200 rubles, and it was to Hahn, not Fabergé, that the new Empress went to purchase her first New Year’s present for her new husband in 1895, just weeks after their wedding, a fine blue enamel cigarette case with diamonds, which sold, Sotheby’s London, 27 November 2012, lot 586.

The goldsmith Carl Blank had been known to history simply as CB until his mark was finally identified in recent years.  He was born the son of a blacksmith in 1857.  From 1882 to 1909 he served as Hahn’s head workmaster, establishing his own workshop in 1894.  From 1909 to 1911, he worked in partnership with Hahn until the firm closed.  Blank then founded his own entirely independent business and continued supplying objects to the Cabinet.  In addition to presentation snuff boxes, he supplied diamond insignia and swords, as well as presentation jewellery.  Blank died in 1924.