An agate snuff bottle

18th-19th century

The snuff bottle is of ovoid form with concave lip and recessed foot. The translucent stone is of rich honey tone with bright orange and red markings. The jadeite stopper is mounted with a gilt silver spoon and collar.

5.8 cm high without stopper



Formerly in the collection of Jan Habbema, acquired in Indonesia prior to 1936, thence by descent in the family.

Jan Habbema formed a vast collection of Chinese art whilst stationed as a high official in Bojonegoro, Indonesia, until 1936.

This fine bottle is exceptionally well hollowed and characterized by its simple form and clarity of the stone. Agate has a hardness of 7 on Moh’s scale, which is harder than jade. For working agate, abrasives were used which contained diamond dust, enabling the craftsman to achieve the highest quality of workmanship.

A very similar bottle from the Pamela R. Lessing Friedman Collection is illustrated by Robert Hall, who mentions that this type of snuff bottle is often overlooked because it seems ordinary and devoid of decoration, but that it is the very essence of elegance and simplicity, the dream of the snuff bottle connoisseur.

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