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Hermitage worker finds 100-year-old candy in a Romanov dress


By Boasson and Eggler St. Petersburg Nevsky 24. - Uploaded from ru.wikipedia; description page is/was here., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

A restorer working at The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has found a sweet surprise while working on a Romanov gown. 

Galina Fedorova, a worker in the Laboratory of Scientific Tissue Restoration, is working on a 1903 gown and discovered a piece of candy in the pocket. While unstitching one of the sleeves that was lightly closed, a small jewel-like object fell out. It turned out to be a candy. Fedorovna said in Russia Beyond

“For some reason – probably some ancient instincts triggered – I licked this piece and it turned out to be sweet.”

The gown belonged to Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the sister of Tsar Nicholas II. The candy, made of sugar paste, was bitten once and then tucked away. When Fedorova discovered the candy, there was no mould or deterioration – impressive given that it is 117-years-old. 

She wore the dress to a costume ball held in 1903 at the Winter Palace. The ball was held to mark the 290th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, with the family and members of the court dressed in seventeenth-century fashions. As with all Romanov events, the clothing, food, and drink were incredibly lavish. Interestingly, the costumes from this ball were used as the inspiration for images on popular Russian playing cards. 

Xenia was one of few members of the Romanov family to escape Russia after the Revolution. She escaped via the Crimea, with her mother the Dowager Empress, on the British ship HMS Marlborough. The Dowager Empress’s sister was the Dowager Queen of England, and the two had remained close throughout their lives.

Xenia’s later years were mostly spent in poverty. King George V granted her a grace and favour cottage at Windsor, Frogmore Cottage. She died in April of 1960, leaving a small estate to her surviving relatives. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com