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Lacquer (I hope) bottle

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Author Topic: Lacquer (I hope) bottle  (Read 24958 times)
Joey
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« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2012, 04:27:46 pm »

Giovanni,
   In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s,  and even into the 1960s, there was 'big'  little industry in Hong Kong and, till 1949, in south China: making imitation cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles in 24K gold, then dipping them in a few coats of cinnabar lacquer, to hide away families' gold bullion stocks!

    I know, because my friend, Bob Li, from Jin Hing Ltd., in Los Angeles, told me all about it. He knows because his grandfather was big in the industry. ALL the gold snuff bottles around today, date from the 1920s to early 1960s. There are almost no known earlier gold snuff bottles (except for a few Imperial enamel on gold snuff bottles).

    Now, Bob is busy trying to buy back some, to add to the 4 or 5 the family never sold. Each bottle in Bob's possession has a matching stopper and matching stand.

   If it was possible to coat gold with a few layers to hide the gold, it was  and is equally to coat a resin bottle the same way.
Joey
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2012, 04:35:55 pm »

Dear Joey,
but a lacquer coating should just show that, a coating, which does not allow you to see what is behind it. But the visual aspect should be uniform, not showing the layers, isn't it?

Giovanni
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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2012, 04:44:18 pm »

Giovanni,
   You are correct, but you keep ignoring the fact that one NEVER sees genuine cinnabar lacquer bottles with Qianlong marks like the one on yours, and matching stoppers like the one on yours. Both are almost 100% (99.9%?!) proof the bottles is modern (post-1985, anyway).
   It may be cinnabar lacquer; it may be resin (lacquer is itself a resin, so the thumbnail test is not decisive.), but it is modern.
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #23 on: September 13, 2012, 05:31:31 pm »

Dear Joey,
what I meant is that a lacquer coating should not be the case of my bottle because in such case the layers should not be visible. That, of course, IF what I see are the layers, because this one is the first and only bottle that I am carefully checking, apart an obvious molded one seen some month back.
From your last statement I understand that lacquer bottles are still made today, then. That is interesting, I thought today they were no more producing bottles with this time consuming method (layer, cure, another layer and so on) because of the costs.
Thank you
Giovanni
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Wattana
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« Reply #24 on: September 13, 2012, 10:08:58 pm »


Anyway, here below is a picture where probably you can see faint traces of the layer. I did add two yellow lines showing the layers profile, to help to see or wonder how they are. The second picture shows some minuscule brittles (the picture is taken through the microscope) of the red cinnabar lacquer that I scratched away from the bottom of the carving, dipped into acetone. They was not affected at all. I have read somewhere that this is a good sign.


Hi Giovanni,

Thank you for your close up pictures. Unfortunately, even with your yellow guide lines, I still cannot see the layers......but I take your word for it!! (I also hate the modern automated cameras that take control of our photographs, so understand your frustration.)

I was fascinated by your acetone test. Are you saying that real lacquer is not affected, but plastic will melt? This sounds much better than the 'hot needle' test that is often suggested, which (to my mind) will affect both lacquer and plastic.

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2012, 01:57:56 am »

Dear Tom,
I did read this some times. Now I did a quick search on the net and found this:
http://www.artquid.com/home/4-the-art-world-magazine-exhibitions-news-gossip-and-debates-about-art/429/how-to-tell-authentic-lacquer-from-fake-dream-art-gallery.html
Kind regards
Giovanni
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Wattana
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« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2012, 03:11:33 am »

Hi Giovanni,

Thank you for the web link on the differences between real Chinese lacquer and fakes. I was interested to note that burning authentic lacquer leaves a perfumed ash!

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2012, 03:16:13 am »

 
In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s,  and even into the 1960s, there was 'big'  little industry in Hong Kong and, till 1949, in south China: making imitation cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles in 24K gold, then dipping them in a few coats of cinnabar lacquer, to hide away families' gold bullion stocks!


Joey,

Thank you for that fascinating story - I never knew that before. Now you will have everyone scratching away at their cinnabar lacquer bottles to see if there is gold under the surface!  Grin

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2012, 03:27:55 am »

Dear Tom,
I too have found that story of the perfume interesting, while I was posting the link. I am thinking about a further test: I will heat, by means of a resistor, a small stainless steel plate over which I will put the brittles that did pass the acetone test, and see under the microscope if they melts before burning and feel the smell. I will report the result.
Giovanni
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« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2012, 03:34:36 am »

Dear Giovanni,

You must be careful to completely remove all traces of acetone first.
I look forward to reading about your results...!

Tom
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Tom
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Joey
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« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2012, 04:48:38 am »

Giovanni,
   First, I must tell you how impressed I am with the scientific way you go about checking things. I am not nearly so organised or logical.

  Second, when I use the term modern, I mean post 1950. However, I have a number of totally modern Chinese lacquer objects in my house, and know there is a very large active Chinese production of lacquer objects, both of reproductions ('in the antique style', they describe them) and totally modern wares (I've  just received as a Jewish New Year gift from my big sister, a pair of Chinese lacquered bamboo serving bowls. Beautiful bowls too), being produced in the traditional areas of lacquer production, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Guangdong provinces.

  Since Cinnabar is poisonous if ingested due to its mercury content, the areas that come in contact with food are traditionally non-toxic  black lacquer, but today one sees them in all sorts of  other non-toxic colours (except cinnabar red!), as well.

    From looking again and again at the posted views of your bottle, I readily accept that it is very well made. I've seen no proof that it is resin (like bubbles, etc.). It may well be a modern (ie., post 1950) example, or possibly a post-1911 example, when stuff was being sold out of the Palace collections, but also reproductions were misrepresented as being from the Palace collections, and sold to people with funds who would have had no way to verify their authenticity.

   From viewing the National Palace Museum collections in Taipei, I remember NO cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles with matching stoppers and Qianlong marks like yours.

 However, I am human, and we all make mistakes. I could be wrong.
 
Best,
  Joey
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« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2012, 03:49:16 pm »

Dear Tom and all,
I performed the test. I placed under the microscope the brittles over a thin stainless steel sheet and below the sheet I lit a cigarette lighter (although I did never smoke:)). I could also record the temperature but it would take too long, so since the flame of the lighter can go well beyond the burning temperature of most organic materials, I found it un-necessary. The first picture below (taken through the microscope) is showing the brittles as they are starting to turn brown. The second picture is showing them after turning carbonized. I kept the flame for a good time after that, but no sign of melting and they even start to float around, probably subject to electrostatic charges due to the high temperature. I didn’t felt the perfume smell:) but also no smell at all.
Well it really seems that there are high chances that I did found my first genuine lacquer snuff bottle.
Dear Joey I appreciate your comments about the quality of the bottle, even more because they comes from a person hat has handled Imperial quality bottles. In fact I bought it because although not expert I found that the quality was superior to the average, being my reference for high quality the pictures of Christie’s bottle.  Of course I am not saying that this bottle has the same quality, what I mean is that, judging by the pictures, it seems to me that the quality of the carving is not too much far. Most probably, seen both in reality side by side, the difference could be dramatic. So I am very happy with the purchase, regardless the real age of the bottle. For 100 euro not a bad purchase.
I bought the bottle last Saturday together with the Wang YaLin IP bottle and my first enamel on metal bottle from a collector who collect a lot of stuffs. He has many bottles but almost all are very bad reproduction, fake and so on. The good ones are very few. He show me a porcelain bottle with dragons in iron red. Under it an apocryphal Kangxi mark. He said that he bought it in an antique shop in Austria, at very high price, because the antiquarian assured him that it was Kangxi m&p. I told him that the bottle was for sure genuine, but no doubt Guangxu and not Kangxi. Both Guangxu and Kangxi dragons has they own very typical characteristics.
Well it has been a very instructive discussion to me dear friends, I got from you a lot of information of which I was not aware; I thank you all very much.
Giovanni


* DSCF3889r.JPG (95.19 KB, 787x689 - viewed 12 times.)

* DSCF3895t.JPG (88.83 KB, 788x657 - viewed 13 times.)
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« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2012, 05:33:53 pm »

Dear all,
Finally I found what I have not been able to show you by pictures, nor to describe properly. With this, I also found the confirmation that my bottle is the real thing. Here below I am posting a picture which I took from Christie’s past auctions pages.  The black line that I added is showing the bottom of the carved areas, from where I took the brittles. It is exactly the same on my bottle. The blue lines are showing the gaps between the bottom and the walls of the high relief parts. Exactly the same I can see on my bottle and could not describe. An image sometimes is worth more than hundred words. That bottle is described as probably Imperial, 1780-1880.
Dear Joey, it seems that Christies don’t has the same opinion of yours. Here is the link to another bottle, bearing the Qianlong mark, and dated by them as 1780-1820. I am not saying that you are wrong, and you have well explained why do you think so; actually I have instead seen that sometimes these big auction houses are wrong.
Kind regards
Giovanni

http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/a-well-carved-cinnabar-lacquer-snuff-bottle-qianlong-4566334-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=4566334&sid=12f843cd-3621-4138-b572-6ac9298fe14c


* Christies.JPG (70.2 KB, 697x505 - viewed 39 times.)
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« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2012, 06:45:15 am »

Giovanni,
   If I received over US$20,000 for each of my genuine Imperial Palace Workshops (but unmarked) Qianlong Cinnabar Lacquer snuff bottles, sold  by Clare Chu (then Clare Lawrence), on my behalf, between 1991 and 1994;
 
   Why would you seriously believe a supposedly genuine Qianlong mark and period (at least from 1780-1799, when he died), supposedly also Imp. Palace Workshops example, would sell for under US$1,000 in 2005 ?!

   Dear Giovanni,  please don't let your desire blind your reason.

Best, Shabbat Shalom,

Joey
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« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2012, 07:23:17 am »

Dear Joey,
if you re-read what I said: Christie's is who has a different opinion than yours, not myself. Beside that, I also added that they do some mistake, some time.
Actually I believe that they are wrong not so rarely, I don't know if in bona-fide or purposely. It happened with me a couple of times with them, and not with them. Two years ago I had a rare famille jaune Kangxi vase which I proposed firstly at Sotheby's New York and they did answer that it was not worth to pay the shipping costs. It was sold by Bonhams at a quite good price. But have other histories too. My firm convinction is that we have to build up our own knowledge.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2012, 09:21:42 am »

Dear Giovanni,
   I'm sorry if I misunderstood. I thought you were 'grasping at straws' to defend this bottle as genuine, when I know categorically that it is not. And using the example of a late 19th C. genuine but mediocre Cinnabar lacquer with a false mark, which sold for less than US$900, to prove it genuine, just doesn't work.

   Trust me when I say I'd love to be able to tell you that you bought a genuine 19th C. Imperial marked bottle for pennies. It's happened to me; it can happen to you as well, through blind luck (like me Wink) or through knowledge (as has also happened to me Wink); but not this time.

   Incidentally, re. cinnabar lacquer coated gold snuff bottles; they weight 11 oz. each You KNOW if you've got one!
The idea was, that looters would see the cinnabar bottles, see them as having little if any resale value, and ignore them. If they troubled to lift them, they'd have discovered very quickly how heavy they were, vis a vis real lacquer bottles.

  Best Wishes,
Shabbat Shalom,

Joey
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 08:21:48 am by Joey » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2012, 05:27:15 pm »

Dear Joey,
thank you. You are talking about cinnabar lacquer gold coated bottles: do you mean that the metal core is gold coated? Talking about that, I have a small cloisonné bottle which looks gold coated, but I am not sure. I will certainly post it in the near future because I would like to post all my bottles, since it is a little collection, to hear the comments from you and other members of this great forum.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2012, 08:28:19 am »

Giovanni,
   I don't mean cinnabar lacquer bottles coated with gold leaf; I mean SOLID GOLD snuff bottles, cast to look like cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles, then coated with cinnabar lacquer (a few coats) , to hide the fact that they are each 11 troy oz. of gold bullion!
   If you had one, you'd know immediately that it was gold and not lacquer. Trust me. I picked up a few to see how heavy they were, at Bob Lee's family shop in LA's Chinatown, Jin Hing.
   His grandfather and great grandfather had a sideline in making these gold bottles and vases, as a way for people to hide their gold in plain sight, as it were.

  SHANA TOVA (Happy Jewish New Year)! It starts tonight.

Joey
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« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2012, 09:31:35 am »

Dear Joey,
that's incredible, I never heard about that. Oh, yes, if made of massive gold, then I believe that one immediately realize the difference in weigth.
SHANA TOVA to you and your community!
Giovanni
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« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2012, 03:48:09 pm »

Giovanni,
   These were made during the 'Warlords period', 1911-1945, as a way for wealthy Chinese to hide their gold.
 I understand that the technique was copied during the mid-1960s, when the PRC was sending agents provocateur to stir the ***t in Hong Kong, till the British put a stop to it. From 1965 till 1978, wealthy Chinese in Hong Kong and Macau were trying to hide their gold bullion that way. Chinese, even today, keep a certain amount in gold, and usually at home (they don't usually trust banks).
 Thank you for the holiday wishes,
Joey
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