This bottle is made from umimatsu, (literally: "sea-pine"), a material akin to coral, and sometimes described as "black coral." It is a hard colony of keratinous antipatharian marine organisms, resembling wood, while coral is a calcareous substance secreted by marine polyps for habitation.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, Japanese artisans working in ivory, lacquer, wood, bamboo, umimatsu, coral, lac-burgauté, metal, and combinations of such materials as embellishment began to expand their repertoire to include snuff bottles, likely in response to the growing demand from European and particularly American collectors. At this time, umimatsu was regularly used for the production of netsuke in Japan, and was a natural substance for the production of snuff bottles for an export market. These are the earliest known snuff bottles in the material and the unusually small size and spectacular material, with its amber and black tones, ranks it among the most impressive of this rare group.