As one walks around the Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry in Sindlesham Masonic Centre, the eye cannot but be drawn to the beautiful objets d’art inspired through passion or perhaps adversity.
Thoughts then turn to our modern legacy and what we will leave behind for future generations to reflect upon. It was this thought that led to the creation of the Berkshire Hart Egg and the Berkshire Hart Pendant.
Under the personal direction of Mr. Philip Birkenstein, the Chairman of the St. Petersburg Collection and, through his generosity, at no financial risk to the Province, these unique English Hallmarked limited editions were specially commissioned in celebration of the Berkshire 2023 Festival, which is run for the benefit of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Egg and Pendant were launched at a very special Imperial Dinner held at Sindlesham Masonic Centre on 18th September 2021. The event was attended by Sir Paul Williams, Deputy President and Chairman of the Trustees of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, and Michelle Worvell, Director of Communications and Marketing for UGLE.
For many years a collector of fine decorative antiques, in 1984 Philip Birkenstein started his association with Theo Fabergé, grandson of Carl Fabergé, Jeweller to the Tsars of Russia. They soon became firm friends and, eighteen months later, the St. Petersburg Collection was created; the result of a unique combination of the design and production skills of Theo and the marketing skills of Philip. Innumerable national and international charities have benefited from Theo’s designs and craftsmanship as he pursued his passion for ornamental turning and ventured into new areas of design and materials. Examples of the main collection are on permanent loan in St. Petersburg Museums in Russia and can be viewed online at https://stpetersburgcollection.com/.
The Berkshire Creations are unique and, to the best of our knowledge, nothing similar has ever been created before for Freemasonry or for the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Being limited editions, it means that they will always have an intrinsic value to Berkshire Freemasonry and to its engagement with the Berkshire 2023 Festival.
The Berkshire Hart Egg, one of which is on permanent display at the Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry, is presented in an elegant brushed gold coloured display case. It is a limited edition of only 33 to reflect our association with the Antient & Accepted Rite of Rose Croix. The Creation, in Bristol blue crystal, is based on Theo Fabergé’s “Egg of the Covenant”. All the specially designed decorations are sterling silver, hard gold plated with 18kt gold and set with rubies.
Every facet of this Creation is unique. It is hand crafted and assembled by English Craftsmen specifically following Theo Fabergé’s personal style. On the front of the Berkshire Hart Egg is depicted the Square & Compass with which we are universally identified. Atop is set the Imperial Russian Crown with a cross mounted on the pinnacle. This again alludes to the Antient & Accepted Rite and the impact of the crucifixion. Both the Compass and the Crown have an inset red ruby to reinforce our indissoluble link to the Royal Arch.
The first amazing reveal within the Berkshire Hart Egg is a work of exquisite craftsmanship, reflecting an intricate depiction of the Berkshire Hart (Stag) & Oak Tree located between the celestial and terrestrial globes surmounted on pillars.
The Berkshire Hart (Stag) & Oak Tree has a particular resonance within the Royal County and the significance of the celestial and terrestrial globes is well known by Freemasons as pointing out Masonry Universal. This first reveal is indented around the edge with our stated core values of Integrity, Respect, Friendship and Charity (historically known as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth) and display the Hallmark for sterling silver alongside Theo Fabergé’s personal mark.
The exceptional second reveal within the Berkshire Hart Egg depicts an interpretation of a rough and smooth ashlar, indented with gold and placed on a red velvet locator. The symbolism of the rough and smooth ashlar is well known to Craft and particularly Mark Master Masons. Solomon contains many papers with detailed interpretations and explanations on the significance of the ashlar. In essence, it symbolically marks our transition through life shaped by education, cultivation and brotherly love as we strive for perfection of conduct.
The red velvet locator once again reflects the indissoluble link between Craft and Royal Arch Freemasonry. The gold indented triangle on the ashlar reflects the Mark Master’s mark of approval of the work as being fit for its place within the intended structure.
The Berkshire Hart Pendant hanging from a beautiful sterling silver omega chain is a limited edition of 100 to coincide with Theo Fabergé’s Centenary and has been conceived from the “Dragon’s Passion”, which was his first fantasy collection of Passion Creations, launched in 1991. Like the Berkshire Hart Egg, the Pendant is hand crafted in sterling silver and hard gold plated with 18kt gold. The shell of the pendant is sapphire enamel with a sparkling diamond to the front.
Upon opening the Pendant, the inside bears on one side the Berkshire Hart (Stag) & Oak Tree. The opposite side bears the sterling silver hallmark alongside Theo Fabergé’s personal mark and the edition serial number that matches the certificate of authenticity which accompanies each Pendant. It is once again presented in an elegant brush gold coloured display case.
Both the Berkshire Hart Egg and the Berkshire Hart Pendant limited editions have now been released to worldwide Masonic collectors. Each sale will attract a substantial donation to the Berkshire 2023 Festival in aid of the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Interest and initial contact should be made with the Berkshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward WBro. Gerry Preston at email@example.com.