Rare letters from Russian imperial family to be auctioned

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A rare collection of 2,000 photos and unedited letters sent by the siblings of the last Russian tsar Nicolas II to their Swiss tutor will go under the hammer on December 6, the auctioner said Friday.

The collection of 1,000 letters, 250 photos, 400 telegrams, 150 postcards and 12 imperial launch menus, were discovered in a trunk by the descendants of the tutor Ferdinand Thormeyer, said Bernard Piguet, from Geneva's Hotel des ventes.

These letters are extraordinary due to their "very high degree of intimity", he said.

The correspondence sent from 1881 to 1959 "was not meant to be divulged and gives us history from the interior", said the auctioner, adding that "the passionate documents" reveal "an image of the imperial family that is really surprising".

"We discover people who are disconnected from reality, who did not see everything that would happen" during the 1917 revolution.

Piguet added that it was clear from the correspondence that "they loved their country, the Russian people other than the Bolsheviks who they regarded as the devil's disease".

"We sense an extreme niceness, they never said anything bad about anyone, maybe this is a side that we do not see of the imperial families," he said, adding however, that there is little commentary in the documents on political events.

For Piguet, the letters are valuable because of the relation that they reveal between the tutor, and the children "whom he has educated and who remained very attached to him".

"They told him everything and asked him sometimes for advice."

The Swiss tutor, who had studied in Russia before being hired by the imperial family, "was a very discreet man, very cultivated and very influential. He was so close that he gave them his opinion".

Most of the photos put on sale had been taken by Thormeyer, who had returned to Switzerland after 1900 and worked for the Red Cross, said Piguet.

The collection of 45 lots is estimated to fetch between 70,000 to 100,000 francs (50,000 to 80,000 euros).

© 2010 AFP

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