Snuff Bottle Sale Breaks Record in Hong Kong

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An antique Chinese snuff bottle sells for more than $3 million at an auction in Hong Kong. The snuff bottle is different because of its European design.

Auction house Bonhams set a new world record for a Chinese snuff bottle, fetching over $3 million in Hong Kong on Monday.

Before the auction, the snuff bottle was estimated to fetch between $630,000 to $1.1 million.

[Julian King, Head of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Bonhams]:
"Some minor pieces suffer in difficult economic times but unique treasures, pieces where it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy them, those will always attract the super rich and they will always dig deep into their pockets. So yesterday, the opportunity to buy the snuff bottle was a unique opportunity and I think it would have sold for this staggering price whatever the prevailing economic conditions."

The tiny snuff bottle was made in Beijing's Imperial Palace workshops during the Emperor Qianlong period in the 18th Century.

[Julian King, Head of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Bonhams]:
"This was the greatest of all the imperial snuff bottles in the Block collection. Of 1,700 bottles this enamel on glass is among the rarest and is similar if not better quality than the two surviving examples in the Forbidden City in Beijing and in the National Palace in Taipei."

The bottle was sold to an Asian collector who bid by telephone, who had waited ten years to add it to his collection.

Measuring at three inches high, it is the largest of all recorded Imperial Palace snuff bottles made using enamel on glass, and is set apart by its distinctly European design.

The influence of the missionaries in the court arts of glassmaking and enameling, particularly on metal and glass, was significant during the first half of the 18th Century.

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