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Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
October 23, 2018, 03:12:52 am
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Chinese? Japanese? Lacquer? Resin?

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Author Topic: Chinese? Japanese? Lacquer? Resin?  (Read 395 times)
guest504
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« on: July 19, 2015, 06:29:51 pm »

Hi folks,

My mother passed an old snuff bottle on to me that I am trying to identify.  Her uncle picked it up in Japan after serving in WWII.  So I know it is at least that old. ;-)

I don't see any seam marks in it, and am quite certain that it was carved, but I am not certain from what.  I don't initially see the layers of lacquer, although when I press it with my nail the indentations go away after an hour or so.

I'd rate the carving as mediocre, based on the lack of detail in the faces, but some of it looks better than in the photos.  It is quite deep in places.

It has the Qianlong mark carved on the base, and "CHINA," too, for good measure.

The cap seems to be stuck on, and I don't want to break it forcing it off.

I am guessing that it is Japanese, but would love any ideas or opinions.

Thank you.


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Steven
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2015, 08:24:17 pm »

Hi Martin,
 
Welcome to the Forum!

Thanks for sharing, that looks like a very nice Chinese cinnabar snuff bottle to me, cinnabar snuff bottle need to be extra care to be kept a good condition.

What size its?

Steven
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guest504
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2015, 08:36:48 pm »

Thank you for your reply Steven,

It is about 3 1/2 inches high by about 2 7/8 inches wide.

The white stuff on the base is paint from a shelf it was sitting on, I think.

I had read on this forum that Chinese lacquer bottles did not usually include the Qianlong marking, but Japanese put them on.

Have you seen a similar Chinese bottle from the Qianlong period?

If it is from that era, it would be a real treasure, but I would be very surprised if they marked the bottles "CHINA" at that time.  Unless it was added later.

Thank you for your information.
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2015, 10:11:36 pm »

Hi Martin,

I personally think the "China" and "Qianlong Nian zhi" are  all added on later.

The bottle itself could be a 19th bottle.

Steven
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guest504
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2015, 10:37:54 pm »

Thank you Steven, that gives me something to think about.

Uh, would anyone have any idea of the value of a bottle like this?

The idea was that I would put it up on ebay, but now I am not so sure what the best thing to do with it is.

Perhaps I need to start collecting...

Thank you.
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2015, 11:01:26 pm »


We normally won't give the valuation, but you can always find the hammer price on similar items on the auction houses.

If its passed from family, I would keep it as a memory! 
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guest504
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2015, 11:18:25 pm »

Thanks, Steven!

I have been checking auctions, but I can't seem to find anything really similar.

This one may be similar but seems to be higher quality and genuine Qianlong.

https://auctionata.com/o/44095/cinnabar-lacquer-snuff-bottle-with-hermits-qianlong-mark

It does have the Qianlong mark.

Anyway, 謝謝!

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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2015, 03:38:18 am »

Hi Martin,

Welcome to the forum. 

As you mentioned, no genuine Qianlong period cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles are known to have a reign mark on the base. But the base does look similar to that found on 19th century examples, although not so well executed.

From the overall carving style and general form of this bottle, I would say it is definitley Chinese, not Japanese. It was probably never intended for practical use, but made for the growing souvenir market towards the end of the 19th century or early part of 20th century.

If you cannot discern fine layers of lacquer where the carving goes deep, that could indicate it is made of resin (albeit hand carved). Some resins are soft enough in warm conditions to 'give' slightly under pressure of a fingernail or sharp edge, but will not usually spring back again. Under magnification resin will also exhibit tiny bubble pits. So it looks like your bottle may be made from lacquer poured into a mold, in which case there should be a seam line along the lateral sides. This may be disguised by a skilled carver. A look at the interior will usually reveal the seam, but you are right not to try and force off the stopper.

I would not put too much faith in the Qianlong claim indicated in the auction link you gave.   Wink

Tom
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2015, 06:12:50 am »

Dear Martin,
 
       Welcome to the Forum from me as well.

       I would tend to agree with Tom & Steven. The Qianlong mark is almost identical to the one on the bottle you 'linked' to, but neither is genuine Qianlong. More probably both bottles are ca. 1860-1920.

       After 1905, for some stupid reason (like the present stupid ivory and Jadeite bans by the Obama Admin.), US Customs mandated the addition of the word 'China' to the underside of all goods being imported into the USA from China, no matter their age or artistic importance.

       However, there is a problem with the story of your mother's great-uncle who supposedly "picked it up in Japan after WWII": There was no reason to stamp Chinese art sold in Japan with the 'CHINA' stamp, and they didn't. He may have told her that, but he must have acquired it in the USA. There is obviously 'age' to the object, wherever your great-uncle got it.
 
Best,
Joey
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 07:39:38 am »

Welcome to the forum Martin..

Not much I can add to what others have posted..
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guest504
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2015, 12:06:24 pm »

Thanks guys.  So it is a treasure.  I'll ask my mom more specifically as to provenance, but I am sure she said Japan.  I don't know if he may have visited China too.

Thanks for the information about the "CHINA" mark, Joey.  That makes sense to me now and I wasn't aware of it.

I'll look more carefully for layers, Tom, but it is hard to tell, as the whole thing is a little dirty.

On the sides I notice that it looks like a layer of something has shrunk, giving it a crackle look that I didn't notice before. 

Anyway, thanks again!
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« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2015, 10:11:10 pm »

Quote
From the overall carving style and general form of this bottle, I would say it is definitely Chinese, not Japanese. It was probably never intended for practical use, but made for the growing souvenir market towards the end of the 19th century or early part of 20th century.

Martin,

This type of lacquer bottle is not one I favor, but I too would tend to agree with Tom's conclusion.  It does appear to be a molded lacquer bottle as solely based on the limited photo assessment.  Molded lacquer bottles from this period often had the images cleaned up and enhanced with some limited knife work following removal from the mold.  The marking with the use of 'China' occurred from the 1890's and after, as described below.  But that is not to say an item made earlier than 1890's would not have the same designation. For any items exported from the 1890's to the 1920's to the U.S, including antique porcelain pieces, can bear such marking. 

The Tariff Act of 1890, commonly called the McKinley Tariff -

The traditional wisdom has it that between 1890 until c. 1920 all Chinese items that were to be imported into the US were required to be marked with the word "CHINA" as the country of origin.

In 1890 Congress passed protectionist tariff legislation - the McKinley Tariff.  This legislation, in addition to imposing heavy tariffs on imports and provoking a major depression in the United States, also required that imported items be labeled with their country of origin.  If you see a mark that simply says a country name it was made after 1890 for export to the United States.  In 1919, the law was revised and the phrase "Made in..." was required.  This is NOT a reliable indicator of age, however.  There are numerous recent items that say only a country name without "made in..."  Don't rely on that rule in dating items.

Many imported items were marked and some were not.  It is also far from certain that the practice of marking porcelain and other export items with the word CHINA actually ended in the 1920's.  Some porcelains that have been found in Singapore marked in such way, the dealers have been very adamant that they date to the 1970s.  From 1919 the word "CHINA" should have been supplanted by the phrase "Made in China" but despite this the single word "CHINA" occurred on pieces made well in to the 1960 and 1970ís especially if other markets than North America are considered. (Source: Gotheborg.com)


By the way, WELCOME to the Fourm!!   Charll
   
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« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2015, 10:58:48 pm »

Charll and Joey,

Your comments about the 'China' mark are very informative. I was not aware of the origins of this practice.

As an aside, I remember while growing up in the UK in the late 1950s, many imported artefacts were simply stamped 'Foreign Made'. If it wasn't British it wasn't 'kosher'. 'Nuff said...!

Tom
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2015, 11:39:06 pm »

Just some additional info, while Charll is right about the 'China' mark's continued usage at some point the scratched version of this (in glass) was replaced by a paper label.  I have included this somewhere in a previous post of mine:

http://snuffbottle.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,384.0.html

Update since my post from 2011, I have seen many (and own) scratched glass bottles marked 'China'
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2015, 11:58:42 pm »

Just some additional info, while Charll is right about the 'China' mark's continued usage at some point the scratched version of this (in glass) was replaced by a paper label.  I have included this somewhere in a previous post of mine:

http://snuffbottle.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,384.0.html

Update since my post from 2011, I have seen many (and own) scratched glass bottles marked 'China'

Hi Pat,

Thanks for the link to that early thread. It was before I joined the forum, so I hadn't seen it before.
Picking on George's comment therein (re. an agate bottle) I too have an agate bottle on which I'd never noticed 'China' scratched on the base until I looked at a blow up of a photo my daughter took last year!

Tom


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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2015, 06:19:04 am »

Dear Charll & Pat,
 
     Thank you both for more accurate information on the "CHINA" and "Made in China" marks etc. I did not realise it went back to 1890; I was told by a veteran collector in Toronto in 1970 (the late Natie Katz of blessed memory), that it was put on everything imported from China into the USA from 1905. I didn't check further. Good to know (and I remember studying the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, while in High School in Israel in 1974/1975! But I didn't then connect it to snuff bottles...  Roll Eyes Wink).

   Best,
Joey
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guest504
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2015, 12:03:06 am »

Thank you all for comments.

This is very interesting and now makes more sense to me.  While looking for similar bottles, I did see a lacquer plate with the Quianlong script and "CHINA"  and it now makes some sense.

Also, it is not so clear now where my great uncle actually was, as my mother heard the Asian theater from her mother and assumed that meant Japan.  As I understand it.

Another aspect of this bottle that bothers me a little are the "bubbles" near the base.  I haven't figured those out yet.
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2015, 01:40:27 am »

Hi Martin,

Since this bottle was most likely produced for the souvenir trade rather than for use (and may have been produced around the turn of the century), there is no reason why it should not have been in Japan when your great uncle acquired it.

If you can see tiny bubbles, that would suggest it was formed in a mould from a poured substance. It increases the chances of it being resin, but the material could still be lacquer, just not applied by the traditional method of multiple dipped layers.

Tom
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guest504
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2015, 02:07:22 am »

No, no tiny "mould bubbles," are visible that I can see.  I am referring to rather large, bulbuous bulges near the base that are visible in the photos.  It almost looks like melted wax there, but I get the feeling it may not have looked that way 100 years ago, and those may have formed over the years.
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2015, 09:53:00 pm »

Well, I put it up on eBay with a high starting bid.  I am not in a rush to sell it, but my family does not seem to appreciate it too much, and there are so many other things that need funding now...

We will see if my I started the bidding too high.  No worries if I did though.
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