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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1018 

Lot 1018
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Lot 1018
Treasury 5, no.677 (‘Unblemished Gem’)

Transparent ruby-red glass; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded foot rim
Height: 4.01 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.46/0.98 cm
Stopper: turquoise; coral finial; vinyl collar

Ko Collection, Tianjin or Beijing (1938)
Christie’s, London, 12 June 1972, lot 86
J. Mason
Drouot, Paris (Millon-Jutheau), 6 November 1983, lot 14

Kleiner 1995, no.185
Treasury 5, no.677

British Museum, London, June-October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July-November 1997

This small bottle ranks among the finest of all examples of undecorated ruby-glass. Of a brilliant, even, and unblemished ruby-red colour with only a few evenly scattered small air bubbles, it is of supremely elegant form. The compression from the sphere is perfectly achieved, and it has an impeccably detailed neck, mouth, and foot, with just sufficient flare on the neck to enhance the form without becoming too insistent.

There is an interesting lesson to be learned here concerning the various sizes of snuff bottle. This bottle, small but not a miniature, is of a size that seems to have been common from the early eighteenth century onwards, when a trend towards miniaturization began. Still capacious despite its size, it was in its day probably not considered unusually small. Not until the second half of the eighteenth century, when ‘full-hand’ bottles became more popular, would something of this size begin to look like a miniature. A good criterion in differentiating between large, normal, and miniature might be found in the manner a bottle fits into the adult hand. A large bottle lies mostly in the palm and is not capable of being enclosed by the fingers. The bottles of the normal range lie in the palm and can be enclosed - or at least almost enclosed - by the fingers. A miniature, however, is naturally held between thumb and fingertips only, feeling neither comfortable nor safe in the palm.


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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