As was the case in Europe, tobacco became became fashionable in China during the 17th century. Traders from Portugal introduced tobacco from America to China - via their trading post in Macau. In China, as in Europe, the consumption of snuff was seen as a status symbol as it was used by the ruling classes.

blog.php-672 Painted snuff bottle made of ivory, H: 7.7 cm, Japan 19th century

blog.php-673 Snuff bottle with casing glass, H: 6,7 cm, 19th century

blog.php-674 Snuff bottle made with casing glass, H: 7.6 cm, Japan 20th century

blog.php-675 Snuff bottle, carved ivory, H: 6,7 cm, 19th century

In Europe, tobacco was mostly kept in boxes, whereas in China, it was the to tradition to store snuff in tiny vials. These bottles were were often intricately designed and decorated. Materials used for the bottles included: porcelain, ivory, lacquer, jade, quartz, agate, chalcedony, plastic resins and glass. For glass bottles an overlay technique was used, whilst other bottles were either carved or painted.

blog.php-676 Snuff bottle made of painted porcelain, H: 6 cm, Qianlong mark, 19th century.

Some bottles were clearly influenced by Western traditions, such as this example, which depicts the Virgin Mary with Jesus.

blog.php-677 Snuff bottle carved quartz, H: 3 cm, 19th century

blog.php-678 Snuff bottle from casing glass, H: 6.5 cm, 19th century

blog.php-679 Snuff bottle, carved jade, H: 6,1 cm, 20th century

What excites snuff bottle collectors the most is their small size as well as their variety of patterns, shapes and colours.

blog.php-680 Snuff bottle, carved agate, H: 8.3 cm, 19th century

blog.php-681 Painted and carved snuff bottle, H: 8.4 cm, 19th century

blog.php-682 Snuff bottle, carved quartz with bird motif, H: 6.5 cm, 19th century

blog.php-683 Snuff bottle, carved chalcedony, H: 6.6 cm, 19th century

Bidding runs from now until 20th September. At 4pm CET on 20th the online live auction will take place.

Check out the full catalogue here.