Exceptional Imperial Snuffbox: A Gift by Tsar Nicholas II to Dimitri Stancioff, Prime Minister of Bulgaria



Auction on December 6 in Paris


« Given by His Majesty Emperor Nicholas II to Dimitri Stancioff, Minister of Bulgaria in St Petersburg, on the occasion of the Peace Conference held in The Hague in 1899. »

— Dedication on the reverse of the lid



Tajan is honoured to have been chosen by the Stancioff family to offer for sale on December 6 this magnificent imperial snuffbox, a gift by Tsar Nicholas II to Dimitri Stancioff on the occasion of the Hague Conference in 18991 (1).


Dimitri Stancioff, Bulgarian diplomat in Russia
An emissary of peace

Dimitri Stancioff, a Bulgarian diplomat who had been based in St Petersburg since 1899, was chosen by King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria to represent his country at the Hague Conference of 1899. Like many other leading figures of the 19th century, he campaigned for world peace.

Previously, Dimitri Stancioff had worked for Ferdinand’s legitimacy as Prince of Bulgaria, as well as for his country’s recognition by Imperial Russia and the rest of Europe.

Dimitri Stancioff entered the service of Prince Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Bulgaria as private secretary in 1887. A fine psychologist, cultured and multilingual (particularly in Russian and French), he received the recognition and trust of his sovereign, including that of other great leaders and courts of Europe. Following his diplomatic missions, Ferdinand I appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary.

In 1889, he married the young French countess Anna de Grenaud de Saint-Christophe, then lady-in-waiting to the king’s mother, Princess Clément d’Orléans, herself the daughter of Louis-Philippe, king of France.

Two of the Stancioffs’ five children also followed the diplomatic path: Ivan and Nadejda Stancioff Muir, who was Bulgaria’s first female diplomat in the years 1910-1920.

The life of this diplomatic family perfectly illustrates the social and political history of Europe from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century.


(1). The 1899 conference was all the more important in that it laid the foundations for a new international system based on law that would allow conflicts to be arbitrated and ensure peace. This resolutely modern turning point marked the opening towards America and Asia.



An imperial snuffbox

This rectangular presentation snuff box, made of yellow gold, cabochon emeralds, diamonds and enamel, was created by the goldsmith Karl-Auguste Hahn, whose workshop manager was Carl Blank. A great competitor of Fabergé and official supplier to the Imperial Household, he was one of the best jewellers in the last decades of the reign of Tsar Nicholas II. Although less famous than Fabergé’s, his production can be considered of similar quality, as evidenced by the numerous orders received from the imperial family.

In addition to its refinement and aesthetic qualities, this snuffbox is distinguished by its proven historical provenance, and the close links maintained by the Stancioff family with the diplomatic world and the various protagonists of the era.

Tajan has had the confidence of the Stancioff family since the sale of a large “Branche de Lilas” brooch by Frédéric Boucheron in 2018. This special commission from Ferdinand I was given to Countess Anna de Grenaud for her marriage to Dimitri Stancioff as a memento of the lilacs that adorned the Château de Chitry in Haute-Savoie, where the young woman had grown up.




« We attach the utmost importance to highlighting both the historical object
and the family history in which it is embedded.
We respect the uniqueness of each family, which is why we adapt and personalise our work for each piece. »


Victoire Winckler
Director of the Jewellery Department







Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins, 75008 Paris


Victoire Winckler
Head of department
+33 1 53 30 30 66
[email protected]


Jean-Norbert Salit
Jewellery Expert
+33 1 53 30 30 77
[email protected]