Francais article # 48
by Pierre Gagnaux ©
(click on photos to enlarge)


FAkeBERGE (fake Fabergé) is the English version of the joke definition FAuxBERGE used (in French) by A. de Solodkoff for items, maybe old, maybe Russian, but made by another silversmith and enriched in their value and monetary worth by fake Fabergé hallmarks.

Now, a lot of rough copies of 'Fabergé pieces' are available on the market, and unscrupulous dealers refer to ... 'export items' or some other oddity to justify their provenance and workmanship quality.

On the photograph below right the trap is more subtle as this is a piece of old manufacture, but, unfortunately, I'm not authorized to show it in its entirety.

The hallmarks appear to be those of Julius Alexandrovitch Rappoport (1864-1916), working for the Fabergé firm in his own establishment, using the punch of Moscow (period 1908-1917) and the standard Fabergé silver fineness of '88 zolotniki' (916 thousandth silver).
Unlike St. Petersburg, Fabergé didn't use the master silversmith's mark in Moscow workshop. This type of marking does not demonstrate that the object was truly sold by the Fabergé firm, but, above all, does not belie the fact that Rappoport never worked in Moscow.
You may draw your own conclusion...
The object is of adequate quality, rather dirty and, at first glance, it looks consistent with what it claims to be, but ... with more thorough analysis ... the suspicion arises .
marquage de Julius Alexandrovitch Rappoport  (1864-1916)

We go now to another object and to the questions arising from the examination of its markings.  

 Mikhaïl Perchin (1860-1903) avec  Fabergé et le privilège impérial de St-Petersbourg On the left there's the hallmark of another master silversmith: Mikhaïl Perchin (1860-1903), the Fabergé mark, the Imperial Privilege of St-Petersburg, and the town control mark of Moscow with the silver fineness mark of 84 zolotniki (875/1000).
Unfortunately the town control mark of Moscow is for the 1908-1917 period, which is at least five years after the death of Mikhaïl Perchin.

The field of hallmarks is extremely broad and there's no shame in consulting reference books. It is better to compare two or three to avoid an error.
And, undoubtedly, the study of Russian silver is particularly difficult, owing to the many years which elapsed before well documented books on Imperial Russian silver hallmarks were available.
An obvious and final suggestion, if you buy Russian silver with a renowned signature: sometimes the conclusion obtained after a thorough and accurate analysis of the piece is quite different from the first impression resulting from the simple consultation of a specialized library, the written warranty of the dealer, and/or the excellence of its workmanship.
But, I believe that my readers will also be interested in the images of some authentic Russian hallmarks.
As I said previously, the mark 'Fabergé' was not systematically punched on the silver and usually only the Master's marks can be found.
Solodkoff in the book 'Fabergé Joaillier at the court of Russie' page 153, confirms that most St-Pétersbourg productions do not have the 'Fabergé' signature and is struck only with the initials of the master head of the workshop.
On the right you see a photo taken from page 120 of the book 'Fabergé' (by A. of Solodkoff, Editions Atlas), with the 'signature' of Henrik Wigström and the silver title of 88 zolotniki for the town of St-Pétersbourg, but without the signature of Fabergé. The details of this mark are much better than those in the previous photo. signature de Henrik Wigström, titre de 88 zolotniki pour la ville de St.-Pétersbourg  sans la signature de Fabergé
There's also another very rare and interesting mark unseen on pieces of other silversmiths. I have never seen this mark anywhere else.
It is the title of 88 zolotniki in a square outline (I saw something similar only on a 84 zolotniki mark of the end of 18th century/beginning of 19th century).
Beside this unusual mark (on the inside of a lid) there are the tops of two rivets fixing the monogram to the lid. The use of rivets is a characteristic of Russian silversmithing, as the objects were not especially made but adapted, each time, to customer's requests.

titre de 88 zolotniki dans un carré
Pierre Gagnaux
photos by Pierre Gagnaux