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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1068 

Lot 1068
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Lot 1068
Treasury 3, no. 420 (‘Bob Stevens’ Turquoise Delight’)

Turquoise matrix; adequately but not extensively hollowed; with a flat lip and concave foot
Height: 5.2 cm
Mouth/lip 0.60/2.03 and 1.93 cm (oval)
Stopper: pearl; coral collar

Bob C. Stevens
Sotheby’s, Honolulu, 7 November 1981, lot 154
Belfort Collection (1986)

Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 4, p. 37, col. Pl. G
Stevens 1976,no. 601
JICSBS, September 1977, p. 11, no. 4
Chinese Snuff Bottles and Dishes, no. 245
Très précièuses tabatieres chinoises, p. 16, no. 221
Arts of Asia, September–October 1982, p. 150
The Snuff Bottle Review, 1 March 1983, p. 13
Kleiner 1995, no. 175
Treasury 3, no. 420

Mikimoto Hall, Tokyo, October 1978
L’Arcade Chaumet, Paris, June 1982
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

The universal gem standard for turquoise is that the more brilliant the sky-blue colour the more valuable the stone, but in China it is clear from that both green and blue veined material was equally valued. The evidence lies in snuff bottles in other materials that evoke turquoise. Of the entire turquoise range of Qing glass snuff bottles, many more are of a green tint than a sky-blue one. Porcelain imitations of the material are even more informative. Both the green and blue varieties are regularly copied during the mid-Qing period. One of the finest imitation turquoise bottles is in the Ault Collection (Kleiner 1990, no. 131). It probably dates from the late eighteenth century and is of a distinctly green colour. In the same publication, a magnificent and unique porcelain bottle made for the Master of the Xie Bamboos, whose hall name appears on other known porcelains of the first half of the nineteenth century, simulates a turquoise-matrix bottle with panels of calligraphy in iron-red on white. Not only is the colour unambiguously green, it is as riddled with black matrix markings as any of the real material carved into bottles. There are others in enamelled Yixing pottery from the first half of the nineteenth century that simulate greenish turquoise (see Stevens 1976,no. 337).

Whatever the colour of the material may have meant, this example is intriguingly marked with some well-figured matrix, some unusual speckling across both faces of the bottle, and some intriguing darker staining, possibly partly due to handling but too well defined to stem purely from patination. This is one of the star turquoise bottles known, of lovely colour and material. It is also superbly formed, with matching perfection of finish.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s.


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