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.

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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.

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

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

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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.