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.