It’s beautiful! The Archduke’s cigar box on display at the Amber Museum in Gdansk

The permanent exhibition of the Amber Museum in Gdansk has just been enriched by another exhibit. It features a cigar box from Archduke Rudolf Habsburg-Lorraine, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. This precious object was made of sea foam (sepiolite), gold, silver, silk and Baltic amber

The cigar box dates from the early 1880s. It belonged to the son of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, the famous Sissi. The object is a white rarity, as objects of this type, i.e. personal items belonging to a member of Europe’s elite at the time, are rarely seen in circulation

The exceptionally impressive cigar box consists of a mouthpiece and a lantern made from the same mineral, Baltic amber. During the 19th century, it was believed that the amber mouthpiece had health-promoting properties and cleansed the smoke of unwanted toxins and impurities. The finely carved mantelpiece was made in sepiolite – a mineral also known as sea foam. It depicts Archduke Rudolf Habsburg seated in a carriage harnessed to two horses, driven by a coachman and a military officer with orders. The expansive, dynamic grouping presents a very high artistic level and realistically portrayed figures. In the lower part of the mantelpiece, under the wheels of the carriage, the Habsburg coat of arms – a two-headed eagle – is carved. The cigar box is housed in its original leather case with the gold letter ,,R” and crown, the interior of the case lined with blue velvet and white silk also with the gold letter ,,R” and crown and the date ,,1883″


In the 19th century, Vienna was the world centre for the manufacture of the very popular and fashionable pipes and cigar boxes from sea foam and amber. Sepiolite was considered the ideal material, as it offered artists great opportunities for carving elaborate genre scenes. Thanks to this, such objects often became small works of art, including collectors’ pieces. The one that has enriched the Amber Museum in the Great Mill is exceptionally valuable, as it is directly related to a person from the famous Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty

Source: Gdansk Museum

Read also: Curiosities | Gadgets | Exhibition | Gdansk | Vienna | Stone

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