Chinese snuff bottle auction at Bonhams highlights New York Asia Week

Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles
20 Mar 2012
New York

New York—Bonhams is pleased to be participating in Asia Week 2012, which brings together a variety of art outlets to celebrate Asian art from China, India, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. Bonhams will highlight this week with three previews and auctions located at its New York headquarters at 580 Madison.

On March 20th at 10am Bonhams will host a sale of Fine Chinese snuff bottles, featuring over one hundred fifty bottles primarily drawn from three private collections: the collection of Dr. Martin Roshco, the collection of Mrs. Fay Plohn, and the collection of Dr. Edward A. Kopinitz. The Asia Week sale follows successful single owner sales of Chinese snuff bottles at Bonhams New York galleries in March 2010 and 2011. Among the anticipated highlights are several bottles produced at the Imperial Palace workshops, carved agate and jade examples, rarely seen forms in porcelain, as well as snuff bottles that have been enamelled on gold, copper and glass.

A splendidly carved rock crystal double gourd form snuff bottle (lot 8, est. $25,000-35,000) dating from the eighteenth century is one such bottle that was likely to have been produced by artisans working under the aegis of the emperor. Carved with floral motifs in low relief on the exterior, the interior is incredibly well-hollowed, almost perfectly matching the exterior shape. The dexterity and high degree of refined craftsmanship are an indication of the Imperial studios working at the apex.

An incredibly rare Dehua ware figural form snuff bottle (lot 24, est. $12,000-18,000) offers buyers a tremendous opportunity to own a bottle of both unusual form and material. With only one other extent bottle in Dehua ware published, this bottle takes the form of a standing young scholar cradling a tablet. Whereas Dehua wares were produced in the coastal province of Fujian, the majority of porcelain wares were produced at Jingdezhen. A moulded snuff bottle with overglaze enamels (lot 50, est. $6,000-9,000) is one of several examples offered in the sale from the Jingdezhen kilns. Produced when the region around Jingdezhen was threatened the Taiping rebellion, the foot of the bottle is not marked with the name of the imperial reign as was the custom, but rather the more vague sentiment "Made in the Official Kilns" claiming allegiance to neither the sitting emperor nor the usurper.

An agate bottle from the late 18th to early 19th century (lot 19, est. $12,000-18,000) also tells a historical tale, with one face of the bottle deftly carved with a scene from the epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a 14th century novel based on events from the 2nd and 3rd centuries. China's long history is more profoundly underscored with a spade form white jade bottle (lot 140, est. $5,000-7,000). Inscribed on the front in back in both seal and regular script taken from bronze and jade vessels, the bottle is a testament to the flourishing archaeology movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, when Chinese scholars sought to trace the deepest roots of the culture through early inscriptions.

Enamelled snuff bottles will be featured throughout the sale, with outstanding examples in glass and copper, as well as an enamelled bottle on 18k gold with an accompanying gold stand (lot 90, $15,000-25,000). The sale will also feature inside-painted bottles, with artists taking advantage of glass, rock crystal and agate canvases to render their improbably created scenes. Bottles painted by masters of the craft such as Ye Xiaofeng (lot 103, est. $1,000-1,500) and Zhou Leyuan (lot 117, est. $1,500-2,500) are among those that will be offered.

With strong provenance being a key point for many collectors in today's market, snuff bottles that once belonged to important collectors such as Frederick Von Shleinitz (lot 4, est. $3,000-5,000), Eric Young (lot 10, est. $10,000-15,000), Vad Jelton (lot 110, est. $1,000-1,500), Bob Stevens (lot 152, est. $3,000-5,000), and the Mei Ling collection (lot 153, est. $4,000-6,000) are sure to inspire bidders.

The Chinese Snuff Bottle auction will be on preview at the New York headquarters of Bonhams from March 15-19. The sale's illustrated catalogue will be available online in the preceding weeks, for review and purchase at HYPERLINK "" Concurrent with the preview of this sale, will be a preview of the fifth sale of snuff bottles from the Mary and George Bloch collection, to be sold in Bonhams Hong Kong gallery in May 2012.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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