History of amber

The year 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of the completion of the work on the restoration of the Amber Room. Several million visitors had the opportunity to see the Room over this period and its popularity remains as strong as ever.

At the turn of the 17th and 18th cent. Baltic amber was gathered from Baltic beaches and fished out from the sea. The raw amber from the sea was usually very fine, while larger nuggets would crack during their journey to the seashore. For this reason large pieces were relatively far more rare and expensive than in the 20th century. This, in turn, is why early modern amber works of art had such a high status.

The original historical decor of the walls of the Amber Room in Catherine Palace at the Tsarskoye Selo palace and park complex, stolen on September 17, 1941 by German engineers from the 552nd Wehrmacht Regiment, was lost without a trace at the end of World War II.
The Amber Room remains the most famous amber art work of all time, even though since August 1944, when it was packed into tightly closed chests in Königsberg Castle, and then taken to an unknown place, no person alive today has had the opportunity to see it.
In the early 20th century, the former summer residence of the Russian Tsars, the most important building of the giant Tsarskoye Selo palace and park complex, received the name of the Palace of Catherine I, the wife and later successor of Peter I on the throne of the Russian Empire
The amber study at the Berlin Stadtschloss was to fulfil the aspirations for splendour of Duke-Elector Frederick III, who crowned himself on January 18, 1701 as “Friedrich I, King in Prussia,” in the newly sovereign Prussian state. Embroiled in the terrible Great Northern War, the already weakened Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was not strong enough to oppose the emancipation of its former vassal. Although the study's purpose was to be a statement of aspirations contrary to those of Poland, the piece itself was the work of Polish artists from Gdansk.
In the heyday of amber craft from the 16th to the early 18th century, two manufacturing centres, Gdańsk and Königsberg, played the dominant role. The amber guilds in other Baltic towns such as Słupsk, Kołobrzeg, Koszalin and Elbląg, were of secondary importance.
Amber craftsmen (Paternostermachere, Bornsteindrehere), just like goldsmiths and pearl embroiderers, belonged to the association of luxury goods craftsmen. In Gdansk, they would settle in the Main Town (Rechtstadt) since 1350. In 1526, there were known to be 46 amber craftsmen, which was a high number for the profession; therefore, the guild’s authorities reached out to the City Council to limit the number of workshops to 40.