Skip to main content

Christel Ludewig McCanless Collection Related to Peter Carl Fabergé (SC-27)

 File — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-27

Scope and Contents

The collection's inclusive dates are 1971-2019, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1990s-2000s. The collection is comprised of correspondence, writings, research materials, bibliographic records, auction results, audiovisual materials, slides, books, posters, and realia.


  • 1971-2019

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Transmission or reproduction of other materials protected by copyright, beyond that allowed by fair use, requires the researcher to obtain permission of copyright holders.

Biographical Note

Born on November 20, 1939, in Peenemünde, Germany, Christel Ludewig McCanless is a former librarian and noted Fabergé scholar. She currently resides with her husband George in Huntsville, Alabama, where she immigrated with her parents after fleeing Russian occupied East Germany in 1953. Her father, Hermann R. R. Ludewig, was a missile and space engineer at the Peenemünde Army Research Center under Wernher von Braun.

While serving as the Library Director of the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the 1960s, she became interested in the art of Fabergé after reading Robert K. Massie's book, "Nicholas and Alexandra,” and Morton Shulman's book, "Anyone Can Make a Million." Massie's book provided the historical details of imperial Russia in which the decorative art of the Russian court jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, flourished. Shulman's book discussed how one "can make a million" in collecting art objects. As a practicing librarian, McCanless instead began collecting pieces of paper, in the form of books and journals, which mentioned Fabergé and his art.

In 1994, she published her first book, "Fabergé and His Works: An Annotated Bibliography of the First Century of His Art," the first annotated bibliography of literature about Fabergé. Her second book followed in 2001, which she co-authored with Australian scholar Will Lowes. "Fabergé Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia" is the only work of its kind and is the premiere reference work on the subject.

Through the course of her work, McCanless connected with a tremendous network of fellow Faberge scholars and enthusiasts and as a result, went on to found the "Fabergé Research Newsletter" and "Fabergé Research" website in 2006. The site continues to serve as a vehicle for disseminating new research and discoveries about Fabergé and his art.

Additional biographical information can be found at (link provided by McCanless).


7.5 Linear Feet (6 boxes; 283 folders, 90 items)

Language of Materials



The collection represents portions of the extensive research library and archives formed by Christel Ludewig McCanless over forty years. A noted Fabergé scholar, McCanless published the first annotated bibliography of literature about Fabergé in 1994, the premiere encyclopedia about the Fabergé eggs in 2001, and founded the "Fabergé Research Newsletter" and "Fabergé Research" website in 2006. While dedicated to research about the artistry of Fabergé, McCanless' collection also includes numerous resources on Russian history, culture, and artwork.


The collection is organized into six series. Series 1, 2, and 6 are divided into sub-series by topic.

Series 1
Reference Files
Series 2
Research Files
Series 3
Series 4
Series 5
Series 6
"Fabergé Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia" Egg Data Files

Custodial History

The collection is comprised of materials donated by Christel Ludewig McCanless. The original donation occured in 2016, with periodic accretions received a few times each year. Series 6 was donated in November 2019.

Related Materials - VMFA Library

  • Fabergé and his Works: An Annotated Bibliography of the First Century of his Art, 1994
  • Fabergé Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia, 2001

Processing Information

Original order and folder titles were retained during processing.

Finding Aids to Special Collections in the VMFA Archives | Christel Ludewig McCanless Collection Related to Peter Carl Fabergé
Special Collection 27 (SC-27)
Courtney Yevich Tkacz, VMFA Archivist
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives Repository

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220-4007 United States