fifty years ago June 22, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (June 22, 1971): Craze for Chinese snuff bottles

The market value of Chinese snuff bottles here [Hong Kong, June 21] have soared following the sensational sale of a collection in London last week for $65,000 (Rs. 4,87,500). Glass and enamel snuff bottles of recent vintage have risen more than 20 per cent in price. Older ones of a hundred years or more have gone up by as much as 40 per cent. Snuff bottles have become very popular in Hong Kong in the past five years and art collectors have been publicising the pleasure and profitability of collecting them. In the colony’s maze of curio shops, collectors have been buying the bottles indiscriminately, immediately pushing up prices. Less than ten years ago a good, late Ching dynasty opaque glass bottle cost $10. The same bottle to-day would fetch $40 or more. The popularity of snuff bottles in Hong Kong has created a booming tourist business in them. Enormous quantities of snuff bottles have appeared, many of them cheap and poor copies of originals, but sold as “antique.” Racketeers have also joined the boom business. Many innocent collectors — with more money than knowledge of snuff bottles — have been fooled by cheap fakes. The demand for snuff bottles, however, has revitalised a handicraft which was dying.

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