Pair of small Russian ormolu mounted agate vases


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Though they have more recently found themselves in the prestigious collection of the English Lord Astor of Hever, these stunning vases date from early 19th Century Russia. There has been a long tradition of lapidary, or stone craft, in Russia, which has produced some fine works in beautiful stones such as malachite, jasper, lapis lazuli, and, as in this case, agate.

Agate is an especially precious stone for its hardness and banding, which give it a polished, gem-like feel. Agate is also a slightly translucent stone, which can be seen to full effect on this pair of vases. 

The vases are ovoid in shape, with long, slender necks, and are mounted at either side with ormolu swan neck handles leading to acanthus leaf motifs and joined by berried laurel swags. Each vase also has a removable lid with with a berried foliate finial, and is set on a square plinth with concave corners, stone panelling and bun feet.

Whilst in overall excellent condition, there is a small restoration to one of the lids, as shown in the final image.

This pair of vases would make an excellent set of four with this other similar pair, which also come from the Hever collection.


From the collection of the late Lord Astor of Hever. The Astor family were a well-established, important American family dating back to the 18th Century. In 1903, William Waldorf Astor purchased Hever Castle in Kent, the former home of the family of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife. The estate passed to John Jacob Astor in 1919, who later became the 1st Baron Astor of Hever.

Among other things, John Jacob was best known for owning the Times newspaper, and also serving as chairman of its board, a role which he passed on to his son Gavin, 2nd Baron Astor of Hever.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
c. 1830
Early 19th Century
Russian Interest
Agate, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze)
Brown, Gold


24 cm / 9.4 inches
10 cm / 3.9 inches
8 cm / 3.1 inches


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