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Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
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Categories of snuff bottles. The four main categories are as follows:

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Author Topic: Categories of snuff bottles. The four main categories are as follows:  (Read 772 times)
George
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« on: November 27, 2014, 06:22:33 pm »

Wanted to post this for reference.. Good information..

Thank you Charll..

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Do you consider the post Qing dynasty ones as "work of art in the style of snuff bottles" or do you consider them as snuff bottles?

David, that type of generalization cannot be made.  In my way of thinking there are categories of snuff bottles.  The four main categories are as follows:

1)   Utilitarian

Example: Conversion of medicine and herb bottles to snuff bottles, bottles made once snuff use filtered out to the general population in masses in the 1800’s.  Also, the merchant class was using snuff from the onset of its introduction into China.
   
2)   Works of art made to be utilitarian

Example: Bottles made for the court and as gifts from the court.

3)   Works of art with no intension of utility

Example: What we call cabinet pieces, often carved stones and gem quality material that are not well hollowed and immaculately carved ivories with just a drill hole for a spoon.  Most of the middle period and all modern period interior painted bottles fall within this category, as well as present day enameling artists.  These tend to be post 1900 pieces.
   
4)   Made as a collectable for the collectors market

Example: In the mid 1880’s collecting Asian was in vogue in Europe and the US.  Manufacturing export items to what was thought to be western taste and product orders by merchants for western demand was ongoing just as it is today.  Many of these bottles were designed to be functional as collectables and small works of art to be exported to western collectors, though they rarely saw any use.  Also, in this category are bottles designed for members of snuff bottle societies, and designed to celebrate special events, such as Nixon’s first trip to China in the 1970’s.
 
All of the above have been in play from the introduction of snuff to the present day, and in my opinion worth collecting.  As you indicate, and as Tom has documented and written about in Mongolia, snuff use is still ongoing in parts of the world.  Snuff use is still a practice in the Mongolia and Tibet regions as I understand.  So contemporary bottles that are utilitarian and collectable, or works of art, are still being made today.

And then in more contemporary times
5)   Tourist bottles made for souvenirs  or keepsakes
6)   And last total crap that has no collecting value.

Charll

Here is some information I put to another collector on the issue of lack of ware on a Daoguang period bottle, it provides a bit of an historical perspective on exports to the US which included snuff bottles.

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Now let me address overall ware.  There has been some concern that this bottle is too pristine and rightly so.  But if the bottle was made for export to satisfy the ‘anything and everything Asian’ desire in the US and Europe, it could be of period.  Remember Asian wares were following out of China all though the 19th century.  The snuff bottle literature has indicated that collecting by envoys and merchants from the US could have occurred as early as the mid 1800’s.    US President John Tyler appointed Caleb Cushing as the first envoy to China and Cushing arrived there in 1844.  Cushing, a Massachusetts lawyer, was sent due to pressure from American merchants concerned about the British dominance in Chinese trade. 

Cushing upon arrival traveled to the village of Wanghia and signed America’s first treaty with China.  I presume that this was the beginning of open trade relations between the US and China.  Other European Nations by this time were already well established in China and had ongoing open trade.  The British trade delegation arrived in 1793.   Though at that time Qianlong accepted the gifts such as clocks, guns, telescopes, etc., from the British delegation he indicated he was doing so only because so much trouble had been taken to bring them so far.  While in the same moment Qianlong made the following point in regard to goods from the outside, “There is nothing we lack…We never set much store on strange or ingenious objects, nor do we need any more of your county’s manufacture”, thus setting the tone for Chinese trade to Europe and eventfully the US.  But ordinary Chinese thought differently and thousands accepted voluntary banishment by emigrating to lands where to they could live up to the reputation of being a nation of shopkeepers.  Hence establishing prominent flow of goods and collectibles out of China during this period.    Pristine wares were being made and have flowed out of China as export from the 1800’s to the present
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