Chinese Snuff Bottles
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:52)
APPRAISER: It's thrilling to see these bottles you brought in. Where did you get them all?
GUEST: Estate sales, local auctions, live auctions, just... under rocks-- I find them everywhere.
APPRAISER: These are snuff bottles. These are Chinese snuff bottles. They started doing this in China in the 18th Century, and they continue it through today. These are all different types of materials, mostly hollowed-out, carved natural materials. And here, for instance, is a piece of jade that's been hollowed out so thin that if you put a light behind it, it just shines right through. This is a saucer. They didn't take the snuff, which was in the bottle, directly and put it in their nose. What they would do would be tip the snuff onto the saucer and then use a spoon and bring the spoon to the nose. So the saucer is a very interesting piece. It even has a mark on the bottom, but the mark's fake. It says it's 18th Century, but it really isn't. This is probably a late-19th-, early-20th-century piece. The tops are fascinating. Every bottle is to contain the snuff, and every top... has a spoon. And this is silver. The top is coral carved in the form of a couple of lions fighting. There's another coral piece here. That's a different kind of animal. It's a kylin. Now, here' a piece of jade that actually is lavender, but it's not just lavender-- it's lavender, it's apple green, it's white, it's russet, it's all these different colors that are right in the material. What happens with the jade is it lays next to stones, lays next to minerals, and the minerals will leach the color into the jade. If it's next to iron, it'll get red, and that's where that red's from. Now, this is perhaps the most interesting bottle to me, because it's a green jade with brown inclusions on the front that have been carved into a whole mountain scene. Now, here you have glass. This is carved Peking glass. Very unusual. As to values on these, from an 18th-century piece like this-- we call it a pebble-- to 20th-century glass, you've got a value of something like $8,000 to $15,000 at auction. And you paid how much for them?
GUEST: As low as $12...
APPRAISER: And as much as maybe a hundred.
GUEST: Uh, 250, maybe. That's the most I've ever paid for a bottle.
APPRAISER: You did very well. And you've been doing this for how long?
GUEST: Three years.
APPRAISER: You've done great.
GUEST: I appreciate it very much. And thank my wife for letting me do this and putting up with me.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.