Early pewter snuff bottles are extremely rare. In the Qing dynasty, ceramics were so plentiful, sturdy and relatively cheap, that no need arose for an additional cheap material from which to drink or eat, inhibiting any major industry in the production of pewter. Pewter was used for a series of cosmetic boxes, and a few other functional objects during the mid- to late-Qing period, but was otherwise not prominent. For another rare, early bottle from the same material, see Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 5, p. 9, where an accompanying article by the collector of both pewter and snuff bottles, John Ruckman, contributed an article entitled 'The Link.' Although that bottle is decorated allover, the shape of the present bottle is more elegant and quite impressive. The mask and ring handles with their unusual ring-punched ground inside the rings, are of unusually fine, detailed quality, and the stopper is almost certainly original - and extremely imposing. The richly gilt metal is perfectly fitted to the neck, the collar continuing the flare of the neck, but immediately bringing this external flare back inwards, with a shallow, convex stopper with a high finial. The perfect fit is further enforced by the ideal size of the 'cork' (allowing for the ferule of real cork to hold it in place), and the ideal length of the spoon, both of which are integral.