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A RARE LEATHER-BOUND HAND-PAINTED VOLUME ON SNUFF BOTTLES
A RARE LEATHER-BOUND HAND-PAINTED VOLUME ON SNUFF BOTTLES

JOSEPH ZAEHNSDORF, LONDON, 1860-1890

Details
A RARE LEATHER-BOUND HAND-PAINTED VOLUME ON SNUFF BOTTLES
JOSEPH ZAEHNSDORF, LONDON, 1860-1890
The book with 274 gilt-edged pages and 133 watercolor paintings on paper of snuff bottles from the William Bragge Collection, bound in hand-tooled green leather with gilt detail and gold silk endpapers, inscribed inside the covers Bound by Zaehnsdorf, impressed oval gilt seal
4 7/8 x 3 9/16 x 1 1/16 in. (11.3 x 9 x 2.6 cm.)
Provenance
William Bragge (1823-1884), Shirley Hill, Birmingham, England
Charles Holme (1848-1923)
Blackwells Ltd., Oxford
Hugh Moss
Literature
Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. II, no. 481
The Miniature World - An Exhibition of Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection, p. 80-81
Hugh Moss, "The William Bragge Illustrated Album," JICSBS, Winter 2006, pp. 13-19
Exhibited
Christie's, New York, 1993
Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, 1996-1997
Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1997
Naples Museum of Art, Florida, 2002
Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, 2002
National Museum of History, Taipei, 2002
International Asian Art Fair, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, 2003
Poly Art Museum, Beijing, 2003

Lot Essay

This extraordinary book is the volume of snuff-bottle illustrations that accompanied the catalogue published in 1874 by William Bragge, Bibliotheca Nicotiana. A Catalogue of Books about Tobacco together with a Catalogue of Objects Connected with the Use of Tobacco in All its Forms. Bragge was a well-traveled, successful businessman whose enormous collection of tobacco-related objects included snuff bottles. His collection was sold at Sotheby's, London, in 1876.
The binder of the album, Joseph Zaehnsdorf (1816-1886), was born in Hungary and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to a bookbinder in Stuttgart. After working in Austria, Germany and France, he moved to London in 1837. In 1842, he and his son, also named Joseph, set up their own workshop in Cambridge Circus, which was to become the leading bookbinders in England. The business and the Zaehnsdorf name were likely carried on by the son after his father's death, leaving the exact dating of this binding uncertain, although the most likely date is probably in the 1870's.
Charles Holme, who subsequently came into possession of the album, was the founder and editor of The Studio Magazine, one of the most influential art magazines of its time. In an article by Marcus B. Huish entitled "A Little Appreciated Side of Art, Chinese Snuff Bottles," The Studio Magazine, June 1896, he notes that the editor of the journal is "the fortunate possessor of a volume of facsimiles in color executed for Mr. Bragge of a large number of his bottles." Huish also mentions in his article that when Bragge's bottles were sold at auction that many of them were acquired for the British Museum.
As one can gather from the illustrations, either Bragge, or the artist, favored porcelain bottles. The two porcelain bottles decorated with tree trunks and lingzhi shown photographed with a comparable bottle illustrated in the Bragge volume are in the J & J Collection, illustrated in Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection,, nos. 238 and 239. The leaf-shaped white-porcelain bottle is also in the J & J Collection, and is illustrated in the same publication, no. 236. The album also includes a few bottles in other materials, most notably the extremely rare agate bottle in the form of a reclining stag, now in the collection of Denis Low, which finds its complement in the J & J Collection (see lot 19).

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