A silver 'Guangxu coin' snuff bottle Hung Chong, Guangzhou or Shanghai, 1890-1920
Lot 101
A silver 'Guangxu coin' snuff bottle Hung Chong, Guangzhou or Shanghai, 1890-1920
HK$ 10,000 - 15,000
US$ 1,300 - 1,900
Lot Details
Snuff bottles formerly in the Mary and George Bloch collection (lots 100-146)
A silver 'Guangxu coin' snuff bottle
Hung Chong, Guangzhou or Shanghai, 1890-1920
Of compressed globular form supported on a protruding, rectangular footrim, the two main sides simulating the obverse and reverse of a coin inscribed in Chinese on one side with the characters Guangxu tongbao (Guangxu currency), and in Manchu on the other designating the Guangdong mint, the foot chased with a formalised floral design, the foot stamped with two seals, one in Chinese Xingfa (Prosperity), the other in Roman letters, HC.
5.5cm high.


  • Provenance 來源:
    Sotheby's, London, 5 December 1983, lot 141
    Sotheby's, London, 6 December 1994, lot 188
    Robert Hall (circa 1995)

    Illustrated 出版:
    Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, Spring 1998, p. 9
    Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles. The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Volume 7, Hong Kong, 2009, no. 1629.

    The identification of the Guangdong mint in Manchu script is provided by Graham 1998, p. 9. It is confirmed by Su Ye 2008, p. 708, where it is divulged that this particular coin was minted in 1890 in a mint established by Zhang Zhidong (1837 – 1909), which demonstrates that the snuff bottle based on the coin could not have been made before 1890.

    The true intent of this bottle is suggested by the Roman-letter seal, HC, on the foot, which suggests that it was made for an export market as a curiosity. In this role it would have worked well, because in a single precious object of silver are combined a typically Chinese snuff bottle and a simulacrum of the local currency. The use of Roman-character trademarks identifying the manufacturer was common practice among export silversmiths from the eighteenth century onwards, and the trend was spread to other centres after the expansion of the silver trade following the opening of more treaty ports after the Opium War. HC stands for Hung Chong. (Export silversmiths are better known by their traditional transliterations, so we have not rendered them into pinyin. The name Hung Chong, actually only one of several marks used by the company, would be read Hengchang in Mandarin pronunciation and pinyin spelling.) Hung Chong was a company active at the end of the Qing dynasty and into the Republican period in two locations: Club Street, Honam Island, Guangzhou; and 11b Nanking Road, Shanghai. (See Forbes, Kernan, and Wilkins, Chinese Export Silver, 1785 to 1885, pp. 110–112, with examples pp. 185, 215, 231, and 232, and information regarding marks on pp. 244 and 245). Given that the coin copied here is from the Guangzhou mint, we might be inclined to favour Guangzhou as a place of origin, but in fact we have no real way of knowing.

    1890-1920 恒昌號 廣州或上海 銀鑄錢幣形鼻煙壺


    光緒十六年(1890),在張之洞開辦的廣東錢局裏開始鑄造這個錢幣(參閱蘇曄 2008,頁708)。所以,這件鼻煙壺一定是1890年以後製的。HC 是恒昌號的印,恒昌號從事製作銀器,在上海、廣州都有分店,向歐美出口銀質器具。(參閱 Forbes,Kernan,and Wilkins,Chinese Export Silver,1785-1885,頁110–112,185,215,231,232,244及245)。

    光緒通寶錢形鼻煙壺亦有出版於鄧仲安1993,編號8.11,而那件沒有滿文。另一件發表於《Old Chinese Snuff Bottles Catalogue》編號1,編號105,但只有漢文一面的圖片。

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this lot is withdrawn.
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