• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 287



    Price Realised  


    A pale smokey, aquamarine-blue glass bottle of compressed form, with flat lip and flat oval foot, with glass stopper and gilt-metal collar, and a ruby-red glass bottle of compressed form with flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a footrim, the narrow sides carved with mask-and-ring handles, jadeite stopper with glass collar
    1 59/62 (4.9 cm.) and 1 27/32 (4.7 cm.) high respectively
    1 59/62 (4.9 cm.) and 1 27/32 (4.7 cm.) high respectively (2)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Throughout the Qing dynasty, glass bottles were produced at the Palace workshops for wide distribution as gifts from the Emperor. Although collectors today value the glass bottles, many of them were originally produced more as fancy containers for a gift of high-grade snuff.

    Following the massive influx of minerals from Xinjiang province after 1759, there was a great demand for the wide range of semi-precious stones mined in the region. However, the material that was large enough for a snuff bottle was always flawed, prompting imitations in glass which could be made to look like flawless stone. The eighteenth-century Court reveled in visual allusions and twists, which included teasing the eye with simulations of more precious materials in glass. Because of the versatility of glass as a material and the multitude of colors that could be produced, it was often used to simulate such material as jade, jadeite, colored hardstones, realgar and aquamarine, such as the present bottle.

    Ruby glass was also a staple at the Palace workshops. Moss, Graham and Tsang, in A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, p. 18, propose that during the early years of the Imperial glassworks, from 1696 into the early decades of the 18th century, it was a closely guarded secret, slowly leaking out to other workshops over time.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Aquamarine glass bottle: Hugh Moss Ltd.
    Carved red glass bottle: Potter's Gallery, Vancouver.


    Both bottles: Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.