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Learning With Hugh Moss / Recipe To Collecting Snuff Bottles

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George
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« on: July 19, 2011, 04:49:06 pm »

The following is from the #7 January 1973 Snuff Bottle Collector pamphlet.

The Circuitous Cook Book On How To Slice Your Snuff Bottle Pie And Get Four Quarters Instead of Five  Smiley

This is the recipe, which if followed correctly, and adhered to in every detail through the long painful progress of its growth, will not only allow your efforts to burst forth eventually into full flowered print, but, rarer than this, the fruits of your work might actually make sense, and contribute to our doubtless fascinating and time absorbing hobby.



The Recipe....

Ingredients

Courage: A considerable amount is better, but if the reader is unfortunate enough to live in a prt of the world or under curcumstances where this comodity is in short supply, just a pinch will do.

Enthusiasm: A good deal is required for the best results, but is is wise not to be over generous with this as, in the unwary, it can lead to a lamentable excess of wrong assumptions, which will eventually overpower other neccessary ingredients.

Photographic Memory: This is perhaps one of the two most important ingredients. It takes but a small test upon the parto of the would be researcher to convince himself that photographs are an essential part of this recipe. Look at an inside painted snuff bottle for two or three minutes, nothing strenuous, just an idle glance or two over a well chosen iced drink. Then having put it away for a day, try to recall to your no doubt confident mind exactly its shape, subject (in minute detail), inscriptions (character by character), date, signature, seal etc. If you can even get close, try it after a week, then see how well you fare. Then consider that accurate research might well be based on the actual style of calligraphy of a dozen different bottles or maybe a hundred, and see how obviously inadequate your memory is.

Method

Take your courage and enthusiasm in both hands. Fit your subject to your courage and enthusiasm. For the sake of this ill tuned waste of paper, let us assume that wehave very little couratge and only enough enthusiasm to take on a relatively small are of the field. Perhaps snuff bottles made by that artist of considerable quality but regrettably sleepy nature who applied his pen to the interior of his bottls only on odd occassions when lucky omens, inner good will, shunshine and a pressing need of a piece of silver or two with which to partake of a reasonable meal at a nearby inn. All combined to move his artistic integrity to paint.
 
What is undoubtedly needed a this stage is not only as many photographs of bottles as possible, but a copy of everything ever written about him.

System:  An ingredient which tends to change depending upon circumstances. I am sure it will not escape those who still cling to the thread of this narrative in the increasingly vain hope that their effort will be rewarded in some small fasion, that a pile of unruly photographs and pampllets would be harder to work with than those neatly filed with suitable annotations as to their ownership, size, provenance and so on.
 
Logic: Ahhh, Logic ! That most mysterious and elusive ingredient.
 
Take your system of photographs and affiliated accoutrements, and analyze them logically. Briefly, as an example, you must first look to see how many dates there are on the bottles. In this way you will discover his approximate working period. This is of course assuming that you have first satisfied yourself that all those you have photographed are his genuine works. For instance, if ninety are of similar style and quality, and one is completely different, poorer, and not as pleasing, then obviously you must suspect the ninety to be copies.
 
Occasional bottles will also tell you where he worked, and perhaps his age at a particular date, and so forth. In no time at all you build up a picture of the artist which if published would bring international acclaim, and the rattling of well filled sleeves.
The first such pitfall is that of taking the fruit which hangs near to the road, without first examining those beyond ones immediate reach. A judicious example of this would be the researcher who upon finding a brilliant apple green colored stone bottle turns to his books and finds that jade can be apple green, and so things "Viola" it must be jade.
 
He will then pursue this line of thought, and perhaps learn that this shade of jade was only found in the early 19th century ans was quickly used up. Obviously therefore, one must explore all the possibilites before making a decision.
 
Lastly, as Confucius himself said, "never be afraid of a loose end". In any research there will always be the things you can prove are one thing and the things you can prove are quite another, and then several groups between about which you are not yet sure, and as long as you don't feel that you have to make yup your ind despite a lack of evidence with which to do so, you will be safe. Research in practically every field since time immemorial has suffered from those sexperts who feel they have to state everything as fact ans are afraid to write that they are not sure about something.

Thanks Hugh !   Cheesy

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« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 09:26:57 pm by Bottle Guy » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 07:07:15 pm »

Yes.. these are good tips. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 07:21:34 pm »

George.  Thanks very much for sharing and posting these.  However, just a word of caution on this.  It seems that often you copy the information verbatim from existing sources without referencing and quoting the official source (the thanks Hugh legally does not qualify  Grin) .  This could be construed as copyright violations, and may get you and the website/forum host into trouble,.. I don't mean to stop this great flow of info, but on the other hand, want to make sure we don't get our wings clipped in any way. 

Hope you don't mind me saying this!   Just trying to help...
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George
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 09:24:52 pm »



Hope you don't mind me saying this!   Just trying to help...

Not at all.. I will add that information right away..
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Peter Bentley 彭达理
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 09:04:35 am »

Hi  George

However   did  you   dig  up that  old  article?  That  was  Hugh  Moss   almost  40  years  ago,  which  must be  when  he  was  in his   20's.  

I heard  somewhere that  Hugh's  father   had  an  anitique  business ( I  think it  was  paintings),which  Hugh  inherited, so he   learned  the  "trade"   very  early  in life.  Can't remember  when Hugh got  into  snuff bottles,  but  one can see the  enthusiasm  of  a  young   collector   in what   he  wrote  all those  years  ago

And  it's  still  very  true   today.  One  does need  all those  5  tools  ( or  virtues  depending on how  one   views  them), especially  courage   and enthusiasm .    To some  extent  the use  of  computers  and  digital  cameras    simplifies photographic  memory  and   method,  which   why I devoted  so  much time to downloading  Bill's   website,  studying and  scanning  books,  and  photographing  every bottle  I  see, whether I  buy it  or  not, and   finally  building the   data  base.

And  of couse  ... logic, which  has  led  us  on the  forum  into the  whole  murky  area  of  multiple  copies  of the  same bottle ( and/or  unsigned   practice bottles  which  find their   way to the  market  when  young artists   are  short of   cash to  pay this  month's bills)

I am now  in BJ . and  as  usual   I have visited    the  local   bottle   shop  in the Landmark Hotel  shopping  arcade  where  I bought  several  of my  early bottles.   The   owner, whom I know  ( and his   wife)    have  virtually given up  selling  "prime" bottles  because  they say  they must  pay so  much for them   that even  after  huge  discount  from the     shy-high  asking prices (  US$ 1,000  -  1,500 )   they cannot  make  any money.  There's one bottle    by  Yu Nong  which  I  quite  like  which  I refuse to  pay  more than  RMB4,000 for,  but  for  which  they  refuse to  charge  less than  RMB4,500 . I will  keep  going back  to the  shop  every  time  I'm in  BJ , which is  roughly  once per month, and  see  if  eventually  I  can whittle them   down.  Gave  them a  copy  of  the   DB  today  as a  gift , so maybe  that  will  soften  them  up.

BUT........ and here's a     real  shocker  !  I  had  heard  via  the  Hengshui  grapevine  that  there's  a  guy  who  often   buys  bottles  in  HS for a    specialist bottle  shop  in     BJ's  premier  art  emporium in WangFuJing Street,  which   street  is   BJ's   premier  shopping  area  (  sort  of   like  The  Strand  in London)  .  So I decided to    seek out this   shop  today, and   when  I  got there  it  was  obviously    a     sort  of  Chinese  " CAC"  (  CAC   is  HK's  premier   Chinese  Arts and  Crafts     chain of   stores  -  some  fantastic  things  there  for  sale .  And  one  particular  CAC    store  is  where  the  artist-of-the-month  comes )  

I was therefore   quite   excited  as I went  in, and  was  asking  myself  why  - in  25  years  of  going to  BJ - I had  never  heard  of  this place.    Certianly,  so I thought, there  would  be  some  great  bottles   on  display

When  I  finally  found the  bottle  section   I was  totally  shocked.   Very  few bottles, mostly  junk  (  far  lower  quality   than the  RMB  200  - 300   student bottle    shelves  in Wang Xisan's   HS   Museum, where  one  can  find   some  beautiful  bottles )  - in fact   just  tourist   junk, but  at     true  artist  prices  :  RMB3,000  -  5,000  !

Then,  a  little   corner  with   a handful  of  bottles   obviously a  bit  more  professionally  painted  (  but  none of  which I liked  in the  least  )    and  at prices in the  RMB80,000  =  US$ 12,000  range  !

I  kid you  not. Wish  I  had   taken  my camera  just to  prove  it.  

These  were  bottles  that  I would  not  pay  more than  RMB1,500 ( US$250)    max  for   direct    from an  artist  in HS and   marked  up     FIFTY  TIMES  !  

Needless to say  I left the  place  in a  hurry  .........

Cheers  Peter


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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 10:12:16 am »

( and/or  unsigned   practice bottles  which  find their   way to the  market  when  young artists   are  short of   cash to  pay this  month's bills)



LOL !

I can say that there are a couple of Hugh's tools that are in my toolbox...

Method... The method to my purchasing madness is patience.. I patiently search for that seller who does not know that what they are selling is even a snuff bottle. That combined with when the same seller offers it at a super cheap "buy it now" as compared to auction bidding.. 

Logic... As you mentioned the internet has made researching and sharing with other collectors much easier..

Enthusiasm..... I have more than a pinch of  Cheesy

I found the pamphlet that this article was in on eBay..

Maybe that CAC shop sells a lot of those junk type bottles to tourists..
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owly
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2014, 11:02:01 am »

If my memory does not fail me, Hugh Moss is seen on a photograph in the Bonham's catalogue of the Paul Braga collection of Nov 24 2012. The Picture was taken in Hong Kong and Hugh must have been quite young, perhaps in his late twenties or so, together with P.Braga, John Ault and others. This would make ca 1970. But he is right. I might add: Exercise in the form of inspecting (or handling) as many bottles, in catalogue or in real (expositions etc) is of the essential. Like a piano player has to train at least once a day one shold read or watch snuff bottles daily in one form or other. But a photographic memory would not be of harm. Smiley

owly
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2014, 09:18:42 pm »

Owly,

Thanks for resurrecting this interesting old post. I have not read it before.

Tom
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2015, 09:49:36 pm »

Great post.Personally I have too much enthusiasm and courage and not enough logic...working on improving the balance Smiley
 Smiley
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