In Russia, the swan is considered a symbol of family life and the permanence of the bond of marriage. Czar Nicholas II presented this egg to his mother, for Easter 1906, the year of her 40th wedding anniversary.
This golden egg, enamelled in sky translucent-mauve, is decorated with a trellis of ribbons encrusted in brilliants and with a diamond set at each four-looped bow intersection. The top, designed to conceal the division when closed, is surmounted by a large portrait diamond covering the year, "1906". Another large portrait diamond is set at the base where a monogram probably once appeared. It bears the unabridged signature of Fabergé and the assay mark of Jakov Ljaounov, Saint Petersburg. It was paid 7,200 rubles.
In 1927 the Swan Egg was one of the nine eggs sold by the Antikvariat in Moscow to Wartski in London. In 1933 sold to Charles Parsons, London. 1939 sold by the Hammer Galleries in New York on behalf of Charles Parsons, to King Farouk of Egypt. In 1954 sold by Sotheby's Cairo in the by the new Egyptian government ordered "King Farouk sale" to A La Veille Russie, New York. Sold by them to Dr. Maurice Sandoz, chemicals magnate in Switzerland. 1958 Collection of the late Dr. Maurice Sandoz, 1977, Collection Edouard and Maurice Sandoz, Switzerland. 1995 Fondation Eduourd et Mourice Sandoz, Lausanne, Switzerland.
It conceals a surprise: in a basket dressed with garlands of flowers in three colours of gold (white, yellow and pink), an aquamarine supports a miniature swan in finely dressed platinum, with enamelled eyes and beak. When the mechanism is activated, the swan advances and starts to spread its wings, moving its feet and rump; the head and neck rise up proudly and then come down again. In 1940 the "mechanical swan on an aquamarine lake" was so highly regarded that it was quoted as being worth more than $ 100.000.
The miniature swan is modeled after James Cox's Silver Swan in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England. Fabergé probably saw the Cox Swan when it was displayed at the 1867 Paris Exposition Internationale Universelle.