'Realgar' glass is assumed to have been developed at the Imperial glassworks during the Kangxi period (1662-1722), when production was under the directorship of Kilian Stumpf and his fellow Jesuits, who set up the glassworks for the Emperor in 1696. Moss, Graham, Tsang, in A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol. 5, Part 1, Glass, Hong Kong, 2002, pp. 138-9, no. 703, refer to a set of ten' realgar' glass cups in Denmark that were purchased in Guangzhou and brought back to Europe aboard the Kronprins Christian in 1732 (for an illustration of the cups see Ethnographic Objects in The Royal Danish Kunstkammer 1650-1800, Nationalmuseet, p. 218, nos. Ebc 71-82).
Plain 'realgar' glass snuff bottles were made in large numbers throughout the 18th century and a large proportion of them were apparently produced at the court to be distributed as gifts. By the mid-Qing period, there must have been many in circulation, and it began to occur to carvers to decorate them, since in most cases they were uncarved overlays, often with a surface layer of brighter color. For other examples of carved 'realgar' glass snuff bottles, see M. Hughes, The Blair Bequest. Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Princeton University Art Museum, Baltimore, 2002, no. 185 (carved with chrysanthemums and prunus); R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, Hong Kong, 1987, p. 79, no. 109 (carved with pomegranate and melons) and the example from the J & J Collection sold in these rooms, 17 September 2008, lot 35 (carved with Buddhist lions).