Writing boxes like the present lot are based on Islamic metal forms, and comparable blue and white examples can be found in as early as the 15th century. It is very rare, however, to find ink boxes of this design and with a clair-de-lune glaze. Originally the box probably had three smaller covers for the circular apertures, however these are now lost. Two Qianlong examples, both covered in a celadon glaze, are recorded. One is in the Baur Collection, illustrated by John Ayers, The Baur Collection, Chinese Ceramics. Volume Two. Ming Porcelains and Other Wares , Geneva, 1969, no. A 376; and the other in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washinton, is illustrated in Toki Zenshu, vol. 16, Tokyo, 1957, pl. 64.
Compare also a Kangxi blue and white example in the Eumorfopoulos Collection illustrated by Hobson, R. Hobson, George Eumorfopoulos Collection of Chinese Porcelain and Persian Pottery & Porcelain, vol. V, pl. VII, no. E. 34. A famille verte example in the Salting Collection is at the Victoria and Albert Museum.