I swear I felt a spark when I first laid eyes on this small amber glass egg. It didn’t matter to me that it had a few dings and many years of wear and tear. It felt like I was viewing something extraordinary. This feeling only heightened when it arrived.
I had a strong hunch this egg had something to do with Catherine II of Russia. The Cyrillic letters “X.B.” translate to English as “Christ is Risen”. These letters occur often on Imperial Russian Eggs. They way the B was designed here though, it looked like the inverted cipher of Catherine II. But then the floral wreath indicated the egg should be viewed the other way up. I puzzled on this but bid all the same. As fate would have it, I won the auction. For quite a bargain I might add.
When it arrived and I held it in my hands, there was a moment where my heart skipped a beat. It had small oval polished foot on the back side that I had been completely unaware of from the listing. When I held the egg at the right angle and distance, the polished foot perfectly framed the imperial cipher of Catherine II. Any reservations I might have had melted away. It all made sense. That moment was electric.
I have a couple of ideas about what the X might signify in the context of it being next to the Catherine II cipher. The design of the X bears a certain resemblance to the cipher of Tsar Peter the Great. Either the Catherine II cipher is being directly associated with the Peter I cipher or the X signifies the title only. In that case, the combined ciphers could be read as “Catherine the Great”.
If this is an eighteenth century egg as I believe, then it stands to reason that Catherine the Great herself once held it in the palm of her hand. She alone would have been entitled to gift an egg with her cipher. The mind boggles.
There is only one authentic eighteenth century Russian Imperial Glassworks egg to be found on the internet. It’s larger, hollow and in pristine condition. While the designs are different, it too makes use of transparency effects. The designs both front and back are only complete when the egg is viewed from the right angle and distance.
Now comes the research. Libraries to visit and books to order. Ever the optimist, I feel confident the proof is out there.
4.9 cm in length.