The sheer scale of the collection held by the Amber Queen company is impressive in itself: it encompasses more than 18 000 individual amber objects, illustrating various aspects of the natural, cultural and art history of Baltic amber.
Among the mail highlights of the collection are 50 large amber pieces weighing between one and 4.5kg, all of which were found in the Yantarny amber mine near Kaliningrad. These specimens are exhibited in three private museums.
In addition, the collection not only includes numerous natural amber morphologies, such as drops, stalactites and Schlauben (layered amber formed by successive resin flows), but also presents specimens with very surprising natural shapes resulting from the flow of the fossil resin. There are also numerous pieces that illustrate the wide range of amber colors.
The private collection of amber inclusions is unparalleled in the world. All species of insects and arthropods that can be found in Baltic amber are represented in the collection, often with dozens of individual pieces.
Among the most significant cultural-history objects of the collection are replicas of several sections of the Amber Room, the most famous work of art ever made from amber. Four individual metre-high mosaic frames with jewelled Florentine mosaic panels of allegorical images representing the human senses, along with other detailed studies and samples of the Amber Room’s mosaic panels, are part of the collection and can be admired in the company’s own museums in Riga, Vilnius and Klaipeda.
However, the cultural-historical focus of the Amber Queen Collection is on objects from the past 150 years. These include more than 200 traditional costume necklaces from the second half of the 19th century and approx. 500 pipes with amber stems from the period around 1900.
Nevertheless, the majority of the amber objects in the cultural-history collection date from the first half of the 20th century For example, more than 1,000 individual pieces are from the Konigsberg State Amber Manufacture (Staatliche Bernstein-Manufaktur Konigsberg), which existed from 1926 to 1945, making it most likely the world’s largest collection of objects from this company. Highlights of this collection include works designed by Hermann Brachert and Jan Holschuh. There are also several handcrafted pieces from Naujoks, Mann und Gedenk, a smaller amber manufactory that operated in Konigsberg in the 1930s and 1940s.
Hundreds of pieces of amber jewellery document the cultural history of amber and its predominant use in jewellery in the 1950s to 1970s. A wide variety of utilitarian and ornamental amber objects, in particular souvenirs, have also been collected. These jewellery and souvenir products, most of which come from the Baltic Soviet republics, reflect the fashion of the time and the aesthetic influence of the Soviet era. Many of the pieces have strong regional and folklore-related characteristics
The youngest items in the collection are contemporary works handcrafted from amber and precious metals by gold- and silversmiths.
Ksenija and Aleksandr Afanasjev are producers and the owners of one of the largest amber companies in the Baltic States. They sell gold and silver jewellery with amber, along with amber souvenir items and works of art, and have founded three private amber museums in Klaipeda, Vilnius and Riga as permanent sites to house, preserve and display treasures of Baltic amber. These unique places allow us to immerse ourselves in the beauty of amber. May they attract numerous visitors for years to come.
Ulf Erichson – The book Baltic Amber in the Amber Queen Collection