Russian enamel appraisal
Russian enamel works have a long tradition in the history of the culture, starting back in 11th century Kiev and continuing to this day with the renowned Fabergé. These delicate and intricate works of art have always had great value, but a growing demand for Russian decorative arts in Russia itself has increased prices dramatically worldwide.
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD was bequeathed 260 Russian enamel works in 2011. Just this year a scrap metal dealer here in the mid-western United States came across a Fabergé egg at an antique sale. This particular egg turned out to be the former property of a Russian Empress--and the lucky treasure hunter was able to sell it at auction for over $33 million dollars!
But enameled eggs are not the only thing to keep an eye peeled for. Religious icons are also prevalent, being a major part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and can carry both spiritual and monetary value. Snuff boxes, cigarette cases and drinking vessels of all shapes are also items that were frequently produced in enamel wear, and though enameling was meant to be used as a replacement for precious stones, the two are not uncommonly used in conjunction.
With prices soaring in Russian enamels and decorative goods in recent years, fakes have also proliferated. As early as 1970s, forgers began to produce high quality fakes so a careful examination to determine technique, age etc., is necessary to be sure what you have is genuine. Russian craftsman are among the most skilled in the world, which means if they decide to set their hand to forgery, they can create very convincing—and lovely—fakes! Having an expert look at your item is especially key if you are not familiar with the object’s provenance.
Another lovely Russian decorative art that is worth taking note of is lacquer ware, boxes being the most common of this kind of item. These boxes can range from the tiny to very large, and usually depict scenes from traditional Russian fairy tales. New works can be found on the market today quite cheaply, but older ones with a noted artist behind them have gone for as much as $80,000.