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Up to snuff: Success at the Chinese snuff bottle auction at Bonhams in New York
Amber snuff bottles performed extraordinarily well, claiming two spots among the top 10 lots of the sale, including the highest-selling lot. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Bonhams Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles auction took place this morning, selling 98% by value and realizing a sale total of $1,022,900, more than twice the pre-sale low estimate. The auction was comprised of 170 lots, drawn primarily 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 compelling array of shapes, material, subject matter and fine provenance throughout the sale generated interest among new and seasoned buyers, with more than 90% of the lots finding buyers.

Amber snuff bottles performed extraordinarily well, claiming two spots among the top 10 lots of the sale, including the highest-selling lot. The top lot was a honey-hued amber snuff bottle, carved with an intricate basket weave pattern, selling for $64,900 (pre-sale est. $18,000-$25,000). Also among the top lots was a cabbage- shaped, carved amber snuff bottle which sold for $23,750 - close to 10 times its pre-sale estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

The second highest-claiming lot was a glass snuff bottle from the Imperial Beijing Palace workshops. Selling for $45,000, this double gourd form bottle was carved with the characters "Da Ji" (Great Auspiciousness) (pre-sale est. $10,000-$15,000) and proved buyers' continued interest in objects produced under the aegis or the Qianlong emperor (reign 1736-1796).

Likewise, jade continues to prove popular, with several top selling lots through out the auction. A Qianlong mark bottle, made between 1720-1800, with a "wrapped qin" design, sold for $31,250 (pre-sale est. $10,000-$15,000). An impressive performance also came from a white jade pomegranate-form snuff bottle which greatly outdid its pre-sale estimate of $1,500-$2,500, claiming $31,250. A third jade highlight was a white jade snuff bottle with a four-character inscription along one side, selling for $25,000 (pre-sale est. $2,500-$4,000).

Other highlights of the sale included an extremely rare slip decorated Yixing snuff bottle with Qianlong mark, selling for $32,500 (pre-sale est. $12,000-$18,000); an incredibly rare Dehua ware figural snuff bottle, selling for $31,250 (pre-sale est. $6,000-$9,000); and a carved cinnabar lacquer snuff bottle, from 1730-1820, selling for $25,000 (pre-sale est. $12,000-$18,000). Buyers were most stimulated by lots bearing excellent provenance and a proven history of sales.

This auction followed acclaimed sales of the Linda Riddell Hoffman and Margaret Polak collections of Chinese snuff bottles offered by Bonhams in New York in March of 2010 and March of 2011. These sales, combined with today's results and the sales of the Mary & George Bloch Collection in the Bonhams Hong Kong galleries, have firmly established Bonhams as the premier auction house for Chinese snuff bottles among connoisseurs and collectors worldwide, with record prices being set for the top lots.

For the sale's full auction results and a calendar of upcoming auction and events, please visit

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