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August 22, 2017, 04:18:11 am
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Snuff bottle hollowing quote.

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Author Topic: Snuff bottle hollowing quote.  (Read 657 times)
forestman
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2017, 04:50:52 am »

Thought I would share an illustration from "Pure Brightness Shines Everywhere" by EB Curtis.

I found a quote about jade carving that said that fully rotational cutting wheels replaced the traditional bidirectional treadle lathe in the late 1800's.

The illustration, dating from c. 1800, is probably from a Canton workshop as these pith paintings were produced there to be sold to foreigners that arrived via Canton.

This bidirectional treadle shown is the same technology as a bow saw which had been around for centuries. Press down with the right foot and it spins one way for a couple of turns before pressing with the left foot and it spins the other way for a couple of turns.

It's hard to see them using something as basic as this. They would have had potters wheels and spinning wheels far earlier, both of which would rotate in one direction. 

Stumpf was said to have to have taught moulding, making pleasing colours and using the wheel to engrave and polish and in 1708 an Italian mentions being in a room full of artisans carving floral patterns on glassware (in the Imperial glassworks) and a grinding room for detailed work.

The entire production of the Imperial glassworks through the 13 years of Yongzheng was close to 1000 items from records which seems very low until you think of the tools they were working with.

Regards, Adrian.


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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2017, 07:36:57 am »

Dear Adrian,
the picture that you have shown is quite interesting. I am posting it here again for ease.
The red arrow shows the right hand of the worker, holding the abrasive disc of the lathe. It seems improbable to hold such big glass jar with only one hand; maybe he is just making some fine final retouching.
It is interesting what shown by the yellow arrows. Those really seem snuff bottles, isn’t it?
Giovanni


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forestman
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« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2017, 04:45:18 pm »

Dear Giovanni,

Yes, they look like snuff bottles.

I don't know what is running off the table into the bucket which looks like water but may be an abrasive sand or waste material that has been ground off that will be re used. The arch over the grinding wheel looks like better health and safety than they use today.

I enclose a picture of my ivory bottle with core drilling evidence in lots of places.

Regards, Adrian.


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forestman
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« Reply #23 on: March 30, 2017, 09:12:58 am »

Thought I would add quotes from "Chinese Snuff Bottles, Documentation of World trade West to East" published by the Oakland Museum in 1977 about the Helen Pritchard collection.

The Chinese lapidary cut stones with a revolving metal disk, using a paste abrasive of finely crushed minerals and water. The disk, mounted on a treadle, was operated by foot-power and formed an object by wearing down the surface of the stone.

The artist formed a snuff bottle with a lap wheel coated with emery abrasive. A tubular drill, grooved to hold emery paste, was used to hollow out the interior. A diamond drill, driven by a strong bow, allowed the lapidary to obtain a high relief and pierce intricate patterns in the hardest of minerals. These features became the distinguishing characteristics of late Qing Dynasty carvings.

It's a strange title for a book that really talks of trade East to West !

Regards, Adrian.
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forestman
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« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2017, 07:01:28 am »

I thought I would add some more to this topic from Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Silica or Quartz group by Hugh Moss.

The top left drawing shows the extent of hollowing possible with either a drill bit or core drill.

The top right drawing shows how the hollowing can be extended with a globular ended drill bit which can't reach into the shoulders of the bottle.

The bottom left drawing shows a shaped tool which was said to have been turned back and forth as the confines of the bottle wouldn't allow it to turn full circle. Is this shaped tool the bent wire described by Bob Stevens which he said was turned with a lathe which doesn't make much sense. It is more likely the shaped tool was worked by hand with abrasive powder to perform the final hollowing and polishing.

Henry Hitt's book of Old Chinese Snuff Bottles which was published in 1945 is interesting in that it has diagrams showing the extent of the hollowing of bottles and a number of bottles that pre date the book were not well hollowed and were more for display than use.

I have just purchased the 38kg seven part A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles which is interesting in how it terms varying degrees of hollowing which I will add more about later.

Regards, Adrian.


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Rube
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« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2017, 08:02:37 am »

Adrian,

This is very informative, thanks for posting this!

Cheers,

Rube.
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Rube, 4th Generation Collector
Wattana
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2017, 09:08:30 am »

 Hi Adrian,

Thanks for posting this on the forum for the benefit of others.

I am familiar with the "quartz silica" book, as it was my second book on snuff bottles, purchased at Hugh Moss's gallery on Bruton Street in 1972! My first book was of course Lilla Perry's classic tome.

I had no idea that the 7-volume set of the Bloch Collection weighed 38kg. Did you actually weigh them?   Shocked

Tom
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Tom
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Joey
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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2017, 09:40:04 am »

Dear Adrian, Giovanni and Tom,

    Thank you all for all this info. I learned it years ago, but it is always useful to reread.
Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

forestman
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« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2017, 09:51:01 am »

Hi Tom,

The person I bought them from through Ebay had to weigh them to give me a delivery charge so that's how I found out. They cost more than I have yet paid for any snuff bottle !

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2017, 11:59:55 am »

Hi Adrian,

May I ask, In your opinion were they worth the money.

Regards Jason.
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« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2017, 12:22:48 pm »

Dear Adrian,

      A few years ago, the full set was US$1600 from Herald International, the publishers (oddly enough, owned by George Bloch, I believe Roll Eyes Shocked Grin).
They shipped them for you anywhere in the world, and quite reasonably.
I don't know if that is still the case.
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

forestman
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« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2017, 03:50:11 pm »

Hi Jason,

They were up for £1500 and I bought them for £1200 which is a lot of money to part with short term but as a limited edition they will always have some value so their true cost to me will only be realised when/if I sell them.

Whilst continuing research might change some assumptions that are made in the books the descriptions and details of bottles along with the quality of the pictures are second only to handling real bottles but getting to handle bottles of the quality that the Bloch's collected and in the number they collected would take some time.

Which is a long winded way of saying that to be able to recognise the characteristics of the sort of bottles I aspire to collect then I consider them worth it.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2017, 04:05:07 pm »

Adrian, Joey,

Thank you for your comprehensive reply.
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George
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« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2017, 09:28:53 pm »



The bottom left drawing shows a shaped tool which was said to have been turned back and forth as the confines of the bottle wouldn't allow it to turn full circle. Is this shaped tool the bent wire described by Bob Stevens which he said was turned with a lathe which doesn't make much sense. It is more likely the shaped tool was worked by hand with abrasive powder to perform the final hollowing and polishing.


Adrian, thank you so much for such an informative post !

The types of tools/methods in the picture you shared leave me in just as much awe as before.. The amount of time involved to use these tools either in full circular or half/back and forth motions would require a great deal of time to accomplish the removal of super hard jade, agate, and some jaspers materials.

It reminds me a bit of honing tools I have used to prepare engine cylinder walls when rebuilding motors. Even these tools on a rotary drill barely scratch the surface of hardened steel..



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Joey
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« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2017, 10:32:45 pm »

Dear Adrian,

   A word to the wise: When I had the first 5 volumes/volume sets (#4, IPSBs, is 2 volumes; etc.), I found it easier and safer to place the books on the lowest shelf of my bookshelves.
Just saying...   Roll Eyes
Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

Wattana
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« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2017, 10:34:34 pm »

Hi Adrian,

I agree that these books are a good investment. The photos and descriptions therein are the next best thing to handling quality bottles. Although you should never miss an opportunity to handle bottles whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.

Tom
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Tom
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« Reply #36 on: August 03, 2017, 12:33:28 am »

Dear Joey,
what you said did remember me the following:
“Politics are like book’s placement in a bookshelves: the less valuable ones goes to the highest places”.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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Wattana
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« Reply #37 on: August 03, 2017, 12:44:36 am »


“Politics are like book’s placement in a bookshelves: the less valuable ones goes to the highest places”.


Dear Giovanni,

I like that one - so very true...!!!

Regards,
Tom
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Tom
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forestman
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« Reply #38 on: August 03, 2017, 03:56:51 am »

Hi George,

Personally I have as much of an interest in how snuff bottles were made as in the bottles themselves and it's a shame that there is so little information available about the tools used.

What is so useful in all the A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles books is that they give mouth opening sizes and, from the point of view of hollowing, I am trying to see if there is anything to be gained from looking just at mouth openings to degrees of hollowing, bottle style, school of carving etc.

We are used to drill bits coming in set diameters which is highly unlikely to have been the case when snuff bottles were first hollowed. If they were hollowed using grooved copper tubes as a couple of sources have said then would the tubes have had some consistency in diameter when they were made so that a few different diameters were available. As I don't know how they manufactured copper tube in the snuff bottle era then it may remain an unknown.

It does beggar belief to think of the countless hours it would take to hollow out a bottle by hand but, for the most part, it is pretty unskilled labour. There is mention of final polishing of bottles being specialised in that there were workshops that solely handled polishing, both within the Palace workshops and privately as well.

I will carry on noting mouth openings and see if it yields anything.

Regards, Adrian. 
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Wattana
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« Reply #39 on: August 03, 2017, 06:12:19 am »


What is so useful in all the A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles books is that they give mouth opening sizes and, from the point of view of hollowing, I am trying to see if there is anything to be gained from looking just at mouth openings to degrees of hollowing, bottle style, school of carving etc.
 

Hi Adrian,

I have been researching this myself for a while, and have formulated some conclusions. I will send you a PM to discuss further...

Tom
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Tom
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