Lot Details
A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle 1730–1880 A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle 1730–1880 A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle 1730–1880 A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle 1730–1880 A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle 1730–1880
A fossiliferous limestone snuff bottle
1730–1880
6.24cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 3, no. 401

    石灰石化石鼻煙壺

    The Fossilized Peacock's Tail

    Fossiliferous limestone; reasonably well hollowed, with a slightly convex lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat footrim
    1730–1880
    Height: 6.24 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.81/1.88 cm
    Stopper: tourmaline; silver collar

    Condition: natural flaw in the stone appears to be a crack at the footrim and into the body, but is not, as demonstrated by the nature of the marking as it continues and widens into the body and by other similar line-flaws in the rest of the material; small half-polished chip on inner footrim; miniscule chip, almost invisible, on outer footrim; lip and footrim worn through use, and surface covered with a network of fine scratches and abrasions, also from use, but visible only under magnification

    Provenance:
    Trojan Collection
    Robert Hall (1993)

    Published:
    Hall 1992, no. 58
    Treasury 3, no. 401

    Commentary:
    Because a number of these fossiliferous limestone bottles are not particularly
    well hollowed, they have generally been considered a mainly nineteenth-century group. The lack of extensive hollowing, however, is dictated not by period but by practicality. The customary hollowing on this group of bottles is perfectly adequate and matches many other softer stones from the earlier or mid-Qing periods. If the lesser hollowing were in response to a non-functional demand and the group generally late, there would be more examples that were simply drilled for a spoon without any attempt at serious, functional hollowing, whereas this is not the case. Assuming that the type might have been made at any time during the snuff-bottle period, we have one or two clues to dating, and one possible indication of the source of the material.

    One clue comes from the collection of Sir William Bragge. In 1872 Bragge exhibited over one hundred of his snuff bottles in the Oriental Exhibition of the Liverpool Arts Club, with a later catalogue published by the Arts Club that is dated to 1878. His massive work, Bibliotheca Nicotiana, a first edition of which was published in 1874 and a second in 1880, contains listings of his large collection of snuff bottles. Among these are three obvious fossiliferous limestones:

    [185] Pear-shape, flattened, narrow neck; fossil coralline, black and white;
    green jade stopper.
    [186–7] Oblong, flattened, brown coralline; plain.

    For these to have been in Bragge's Collection by the 1870s, we may assume that they represent, at the very latest, a mid-nineteenth century group. If they existed in the mid-nineteenth century, there is no reason why they should not have been a standard part of mid-Qing snuff-bottle production.

    There is one further clue as to dating. There is one (Hugh Moss records) of the standard black material with tiny white cylindrical fossils that appear as a mass of small, white circles when cut through. It has the typical mask-and-ring handles of the Master of the Rocks school of nephrite carving, which we have dated to the mid-Qing period and which may have begun during the first half of the eighteenth century. There is no reason why a jade-carving workshop should not carve other stones, and the form and obvious age of this bottle demonstrate that the material was available to this school during the mid-Qing period.

    Nothing about the form or workmanship would preclude the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, or even the first half of the eighteenth century, and this bottle is one of the best hollowed of any in the material. The detailing of the foot, with its neat, flat recession surrounded by a protruding footrim of perfect formal integrity, would qualify as Qianlong or even earlier on a glass or hardstone bottle.

    The material is unusual and striking because the black markings are in a white matrix, whereas a more common form is found with white markings in a dark ground. The darker markings are also confined to one side, somewhat resembling a close-up of a peacock's tail, which provides a fascinating contrast as the bottle is turned in the hand. In the light of this and the other three bottles in this fascinating range of materials (Treasury 3, nos. 400, 402, and 403), one can see why it was so popular among the Chinese, with their long established love of strange and intriguing stones. For the number that we see today in this relatively fragile material to have survived, many more must have been made, and we believe that it was probably a standard type from the mid- to late Qing period; it may well have entered the pantheon of snuff-bottle materials even earlier, during the first phase of manufacture in the early Qing.

    孔雀尾化石

    含化石的石灰巖;掏膛適宜,微凸形唇,平面斂底,突出圈足,圈足底完全接觸地面
    1730~1880年
    高:6.24 厘米
    口經/唇經:0.81/1.88 厘米
    蓋:碧璽, silver 座

    狀態敘述:
    圈足和壺身似有裂縫,其實是自然的瑕疵;圈足內緣呈極小而半磨平的缺口;圈足外緣有微乎其微的缺口,幾乎看不見,因使用積年,唇與圈足有所磨擦,壺身也呈多數細微的刮傷及擦損處,但都是肉眼看不見的

    來源:
    特落伊珍藏
    羅伯特.霍爾 (1993)

    文獻:
    Hall 1992, 編號58
    Treasury 3, 編號401

    說明:
    關於本煙壺的斷代根據,請參閱本壺的英文說明。我們認為這類材料作的鼻煙壺很可能是在清朝中葉或者更早的時期很流行的,只是因為材料的易碎性,現存的例子不多。考慮本壺掏膛格外好,底足雕琢得那麼精工, 如果說它是乾隆甚至乾隆以前作的,我們不能提出異論。

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