York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshire family's Russian royal cutlery sold for £20k

Cutlery in box Image copyright Bulstrodes
Image caption The cutlery set was sold for £20,000 at auction

A jewelled cutlery set given to a Yorkshire woman by the last Empress of Russia has been sold at auction for £20,000.

The lot also included letters and other correspondence from the Russian royal family and has been bought by Harrogate's Royal Pump Room Museum.

The gift was given to the children of a Harrogate hotel owner by Tsarina Alexandra.

The princess had stayed at Cathcart House to take the spa waters in 1894.

During her visit, the hotelier, Mrs Allen, gave birth to twins.

Princess Alix of Hesse, as she was then known, took this as a good omen for her forthcoming marriage and sent the gift to mark the twins' birthday.

Princess Alix, who married the future Tsar Nicholas II in 1894, had asked to become the children's godmother. They were subsequently named Alix and Nicholas after her and her future husband.

Image copyright Bulstrodes
Image caption The box is engraved with the name of Alix Allen

Kate Howe, from Bulstrodes auctioneers, said the royal godmother sent the family an ornate boxed cutlery set made by the Russian imperial silversmiths the Grachev Brothers.

Ms Howe said she was surprised when she saw the engraved box.

"During an ordinary valuation day, amongst all the tea sets and framed prints was this beautiful object and we couldn't quite believe what we were seeing," she said.

"Two identical boxed sets were sent for the boy and girl as indicated in the black and white photograph we have."

"The boxed set has been stored in the bank for many years and consequently is in excellent condition."

Image copyright Bulstrodes
Image caption The cutlery set was made by the Russian imperial silversmiths the Grachev Brothers

As well as the cutlery, a scrap book detailing the links between the Allens and the Russian royal family was also sold by the Dorset-based auctioneers.

It contains photographs and telegrams from Carl Faberge - the famous jeweller - requesting pictures of their hotel to be used in the design of a golden Easter egg which was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas as a present for his wife.

In a post on its website, antique dealers Wartski said it had acquired the item for the museum "with the aid of the Art Fund, V&A Purchase Fund, Friends of Museum and Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery".

Image copyright Bulstrodes
Image caption An accompanying scrapbook has letters and pictures of the royal family

Princess Alix, who was Queen Victoria's granddaughter, married Grand Duke Nicholas in November 1894. The couple ruled Russia until they were deposed following the revolution in 1917.

They were shot, along with their five children and servants, by Bolshevik revolutionaries in July 1918.

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