Russian royal family cutlery doubles estimate

A remarkable set of cutlery originally made for the Russian royal family in 1894 has sold at Bulstrodes in Christchurch, UK.

It realised £20,000 ($24,484), double its £10,000 ($12,242) valuation, on March 2.

The set has an unusual backstory.

Russian cutlery Tsarina

It was one of two given as a gift by Tsarina Alexandra to a Mrs Allen, the owner of a hotel in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in 1894.

The Tsarina, who was at the time still Princess Alix of Hesse (she would marry Tsar Nicholas II later that year), visited the town to bathe in its famously regenerative mineral springs.

During her stay Mrs Allen gave birth to twins – a girl and a boy.

Interpreting this as a sign that her upcoming marriage would be a happy one, the future Tsarina asked if she might become the twins’ godmother and they be named Alix and Nicholas.

The surprised hotelier agreed, and so each year until her execution in 1918, the Tsarina would send the children a gift on their birthday.

The BBC reports that the Harrogate Pump House Museum bought the lot.

The museum already owns most of the gifts given to the twins by the Tsarina.

Kate Howe of Bulstrodes told the BBC: "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.  

"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."

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