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Easter Egg Hunts Attract Collectors

Collectors love Easter eggs! The smooth oval shape of a simple egg can be painted, dipped, and copied in various mediums, including precious metals, crystal, marble, porcelain and jewel encrusted to create an egg to delight even the most discerning of eyes.

Egg collectors seek fancy examples like colorful German papier mache eggs, vintage spun sugar eggs with scenes inside, hand painted eggs of all kinds, carved examples, African Ostrich varieties, Ukrainian Pysanky, and jeweled eggs like the most famous eggs of all, Faberge.

I have a few treasured Easter eggs myself. My favorite is a 1940-era turquoise blue Bakelite egg, decorated with rhinestones, that was my mother’s. Actually, an Elizabeth Arden marked cosmetic trinket box, the egg is in great shape and is shown in today’s column.

This egg is a vintage collectible that would appeal to accessory collectors as well as fans of holiday items, advertising and Americana.

German made composition eggs of various sizes that are a treasure today. These were designed to delight children and include straw inside to hide treats. Germany was the tops in the early 1900s and most of the fine antique holiday paper decorations that collectors seek from this era were made there.

Pysanky eggs are masterpieces of skill and time-consuming workmanship. With the historical background of these colorful eggs, originating in the region of Poland-Ukraine, these eggs take on a special significance this year as the people of this region fight another war of aggression.

The process of painting the Ukrainian eggs involves applying melted beeswax to a fresh white egg. These are then dipped in successive baths of colored dyes. After each dip, new wax is painted over the area where the artist wants the color to remain intact. Eventually a complex pattern of lines and colors emerges and the wax is baked off, to create a finished work of egg art.

Faberge-like eggs are especially popular today with many variations produced by collectible companies and museum stores. The story behind these eggs is a fabled tale of Imperial extravagance.

Czar Nicholas II gave stunning examples of jeweled eggs to his wife and mother in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many are today in museums or private collections. These gold and precious metal eggs were encrusted with jewels and designed with rare workmanship and attention to detail. The originals from the Peter Carl Faberge workshop are valued in the millions.

Replicas are available today at luxury retailers that look like the most famous Faberge examples.

These copies sell for thousands of dollars.

But there are only 50 original Imperial Easter Eggs in the world, including nine sold some years back by the Forbes Magazine dynasty and bought by a Russian billionaire who took them back to their native land.

Ten others are in the Moscow Kremlin Collection, five are at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth owns three.

The whereabouts of eight others remain unknown and others are in the U.S., Switzerland and Monaco. (See pbs.org/treasuresoftheworld/faberge)

Modern Easter egg ornaments are still being made and many times collectors blend the old with the new in their personal inventory. New examples are available in a wide variety of materials, designs and price points. Hallmark, Christopher Radko, Old World, Lenox and other popular names create collectible eggs annually for enthusiasts to enjoy.

Whatever your choice of egg this Easter, please enjoy the beauty of spring, antiques and the arts and have a Happy Easter!

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