A carnelian double snuff bottle, 1750-1800. Imperial, attributed to the Palace workshops, Beijing. photo courtesy Sotheby's

well hollowed and carved in the form of a 'Hero's vase', the stone of caramel-pink tone with paler inclusions, carved as two cylinders incised with archaistic scroll patterns and carved with mock mask and ring handles, the two bottles linked by a fabulous bird, the whole resting on the back of a crouching feline beast; height 2 in., 5.1 cm. Estimate 30,000—50,000 USD. Lot Sold 80,500 USD

PROVENANCE: The Ko Collection (Beijing, 1921).
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd.

LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Vanessa F. Holden, 'The Joe Grimberg Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles', Oriental Art, 2002, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 65-72, figs. 24 & 25.

NOTE: The unusual form of this bottle derives from an archaic model termed 'Hero's vase' or 'Champions' vase', examples of which were thought to have been presented to winners of sporting or combative contests. The model is most frequently - although still rarely - found in jade works of art, where the two vases are generally carved on the sides with pierced work for suspension, and with a cover carved from a single piece of jade. For an example of this type see The Chinese Porcelain Company, Chinese Snuff Bottles and Jade Carvings from the Douglas, Gnam and Other Collections, New York, 1992, pp. 32-33, no. 44. It is unclear whether this form was originally intended as a snuff bottle or was simply a miniature vase. The present example however was clearly made as a double snuff bottle.

Sotheby's. The Joe Grimberg Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles, 14 Sep 10, New York www.sothebys.com.