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A pair of exceptionally rare Fabergé six-pointed star shaped clocks by Chief Workmaster Mikhaïl Perkhin.

23 September 2012 

(updated on 1st November 2023)

Inspired by the photograph, shown above, in "Royal Fabergé" by Caroline de Guitaut, Deputy Surveyor of  The King's Works of Art, this article explores the design and symbolism of the six pointed star in pieces by Carl Fabergé.

Fabergé clocks are uncommon. Rarer still are clocks featuring two colours of enamel, in circular, square or rectangular form. Timepieces featuring a six pointed star with two colours of enamel are exceptionally rare. I have records of four examples of six pointed star clocks - with two colours of enamel - in my digital archive, two of which I am sharing with you here. One of these clocks is directly comparable to the Fabergé timepiece in apricot & oyster white guilloché enamel, that was gifted to the late Prince Philip, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, by his Aunt Queen Louise of Sweden in 1965. 

The second clock of this design appeared at auction at Sotheby's New York in 2005. It must be one of the most exciting auctions that I have ever seen: the Lily & Edmund J. Safra Sale on 3rd November 2005.  At this sale I was thrilled to see Lot 37, a Fabergé six pointed star-shaped clock, of identical design to the piece in the Royal Collection that is shown above. Bidding kept on climbing, and the hammer eventually came down at a somewhat staggering US$ 968,000. As it turns out, Mr. Victor Vekselberg was the successful bidder. This magnificent timepiece it is now on display - for all to enjoy - in the Fabergé Museum at the Shuvalov Palace on Fontanka Embankment in St. Petersburg.

(A photograph of the of the clock on display, bottom left in the vitrine, is shown at the bottom of this article,

courtesy of Dr. Géza von Habsburg).

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It has guilloché enamel panels of sky blue and oyster white. The clock bezel is adorned with diamond-set ribbon-tied hand chased laurel leaves, with six foliate & floral rosettes, one at each corner of the inner hexagon. The outer borders of the 56 zolotnik gold gold frame are engraved with a repeating "dash & two dots" motif, with 10 dashes and 22 dots on each bar. The ivory back panel is supported by a strut fabricated in 88 zolotnik silver. The clock movement is a twin-barrel 8 day mechanism by Henry Möser & Cie. Marked K.Fabergé in Cyrillic with Workmaster's initials MP in Cyrillic for Mikhaïl Perkhin. St. Petersburg Assay Office kokoshnik mark 1899-1903.

Height 4¾ inches (ca. 12 cm).

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The design is based on the classical geometric six-pointed star. The circular clock face fits perfectly within the hexagon that emerges in the centre of the star, with each of the six gaps at the hexagon points being filled by a rosette. A simplified design drawing that I created in September 2012 to illustrate the geometric structure of the piece is shown below.

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To understand more fully the symbolism of the six pointed star, we need to place this piece within its cultural context of pre-Revolutionary Imperial Russia, when the Czar was Head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in a role similar to that of the current British Monarch His Majesty The King: "Defender of The Faith". 


The Orthodox Church, in its catechism for young people, teaches the Holy Trinity of God The Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit, in triangular form. Sometimes a diagram of three interlocking circles is used, with three geometric Vesica Piscis devices, that sit harmoniously around a central curved triangle. The second illustration below depicts this concept. Many Orthodox Christians - of both Eastern and Russian Orthodox traditions - would recognise this diagram today.


Back to the symbolism of the clock... The sky blue triangle, that points downwards, represents God The Father descending to Earth in His Son Our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ. The oyster white triangle, that points upwards, represents the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven, to be seated at the right hand of God the Father. Thus we have a synthesis of two of the most important elements of the Gospels, brought to life in an object of remarkable beauty and unrivalled craftsmanship, using precious raw materials. As a timepiece, this beautiful objet d'art marks the passing of Chronos (earthly time) and by association, connecting us to the timelessness of Kairos (heavenly infinite time). 

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To my mind, one of the things that contributes to making so many pieces fabriqué par la maison Fabergé so satisfying is the hidden meaning that can be uncovered by the discerning eye. Rarely do we see objects of such harmonious design & proportion being carefully fabricated in precious materials, in the successful pursuit of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, I would welcome your thoughts and comments, by dropping me a line on the contact form at the bottom of the "About" page on this website.  

I plan to share some further analysis work with you here in the near future. If you would like me to focus on a particular favourite Fabergé item of yours, feel free to send me some images along with your request.

This is my own personal way of celebrating these God-given skills of ours, with deep gratitude, and to His glory!


- o0o -

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