No-reserve Chinese snuff bottle sale had surprising results at Tremont

Late Qing interior-painted snuff bottle signed for Ding Erzhong (1865-1935), $11,000 at Tremont Auctions.

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SUDBURY, Mass. — On October 22, Tremont Auctions sold the collection of mainly Chinese snuff bottles assembled since the 1960s by Mitchell Bistany. Every one of the 551 lots in the sale carried the estimate of $200-$300 and was offered without reserve, so all were sold. However, some significantly passed expectations.

The top seller was an early 20th-century interior-painted snuff bottle that featured a scene of a hen and her chicks. It was signed for Ding Erzhong (1865-1935), a scholar and possibly an official who was active in the last years of the Qing court and championed the gu yuexuan (enameled glass) technique. It hammered for $11,000 and sold for $13,970 with buyer’s premium.

Among the many porcelain bottles was one with a yellow glaze modeled as the figure of Li Tieh Kuai, one of the Eight Immortals. Dated to the 19th century, with a two-character mark to the base and a coral stopper, it hammered for $9,500 and sold for $12,065 with buyer’s premium.

A bottle decorated in famille rose enamels with a Jaiqing mark (1796-1820) hammered for $9,000 and sold for $11,430 with buyer’s premium, while a double gourd-form enamel bottle with a European subject — copying a type made at the imperial workshops in Beijing during the Qianlong (1735-96) period — hammered for $4,600 and sold for $5,842 with buyer’s premium.

A vessel appealing to both snuff bottle collectors and to enthusiasts of Chinese handling jades was a bottle carved as a snuff bottle bag. Fashioned in a yellow stone and dated to the 18th century, it hammered for $8,500 and sold for $10,795 with buyer’s premium.
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Late Qing interior-painted snuff bottle signed for Ding Erzhong, which sold for $11,000 ($13,970 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions.
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Porcelain snuff bottle modeled as the figure of Li Tieh Kuai, which sold for $9,500 ($12,065 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions.
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Famille rose porcelain snuff bottle with Jaiqing mark, which sold for $9,000 ($11,430 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions.
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Beijing enamel double gourd-form famille rose snuff bottle with Qianlong mark, which sold for $4,600 ($5,842 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions.
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Yellow jade snuff bottle carved as a snuff bottle bag, probably 18th century, which sold for $8,500 ($10,795 with buyer’s premium) at Tremont Auctions.
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