One of life’s small pleasures for me is beautifully engraved stationery and I love monograms. So browsing auction catalogues featuring old letters is a real pleasure because one inevitably comes across some beautiful examples of the stationery engraver’s art, such as these Russian Imperial monograms (Christie’s Russian Works of Art, New York 15th April 2013) where literally no expense has been spared in their production, using multiple colours (each colour requires the paper to be stamped with a different die or a masked die – it is a very difficult and specialised skill when done by hand) and exquisite composition of the letters.
I thought posting some Russian examples was fairly apt given the famous Imperial tradition of giving a jewelled Easter Egg made by Faberge around this time of year.
I saw this interesting variant on Edward VII’s cipher, applied as a gold and enamel mount on a cigarette box coming up at Christies on the 9th December. ‘Harewood – The Attic Sale’ is at Christies in South Kensington and there are some really lovely lots, including another presentation cigarette box featuring Edward VII’s son’s cipher when Prince of Wales – the letter E surrounded by a garter with the familiar ostrich feather plumes.
Of course of particular interest for me is that this cigarette box was given by the chap who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson. I wonder if they themselves ever took a cigarette from this box at Harewood House… Somehow I doubt such chic persons ever smoked anything other than their own tobacco blends and had a stash with them at all times carried in the most elegant of accessories, as a cigarette case by Faberge owned by King Edward VII personally and enamelled in his racing colours sold today (also from Harewood House) for £313,250.