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Modern Art of Snuff Bottle

5 Easy ways to preserve your snuff bottles

Updated: Jul 31, 2021


When you collect the inside painted snuff bottle, did you notice the white speckle in the inner wall? Where does the white speckle come from? This is a ubiquitous question for many inside painted snuff bottle collectors. This phenomenon is caused by a long time out of maintenance. When the inside painted snuff bottle is exposed to a high moist environment, the glass wall in the bottle releases the Calcium carbonate, which will be attached to the glass wall for a period. The value of the damaged snuff bottle will dramatically fall to the ground, not to mention the pleasure of appreciation for the work of art. Hence, it is consequential for the daily maintenance of snuff bottles. Here are five tips for collectors to maintain your snuff bottles.


A mode Inside painted snuff bottle by Fu Guoshun. D.D Art
A mode Inside painted snuff bottle, by Fu Guoshun

1. Moisture-proof


For inside painted snuff bottles, it is important to avoid the moisture environment. The pigments in the snuff bottle are easily affected by moisture. Once the inside paintings are exposed to a humid environment for a long while, the picture will fade and become no longer fresh and vivid. As for the severe case, the entire picture may be demolished.


Snuff bottles must be stored in a dry and ventilated environment and be as far away as possible from a place with sufficient moisture. Traditionally, snuff bottles are stored in the clean brocade box and preferably require some desiccant in the box as well. It is to ensure that moisture is blocked. In addition, the collection box should not be exposed to direct sunlight because ultraviolet rays are very destructive to colors, and the sunlight will make the accumulation of moisture in the snuff bottle. It will cause fading and discoloration of the paintings.


2. Take away “ Spoon”


Nowadays, the snuff bottle is aesthetic more than useful because few people take snuff. The spoon in the stopper does no longer serve its function. Therefore, we recommended removing the spoon. The reason is that sometimes during playing, the spoon is possibly broken and left in the bottle. It takes time to take it away outside the bottle. During the operation, it might scratch the painting and destroy some parts. If snuff bottle collectors do not have the requirements for the spoon out of aesthetic reasons, the spoon can be removed to reduce the chance of the loss of the inside painting.


A Stopper without spoon for snuff bottle. . D.D Art
A Stopper without spoon for snuff bottle.

Generally, modern inside painters usually remove the spoon for safety concerns. After all, the snuff bottle has turned from practicality to aesthetics since the late Qing Dynasty. The importance of the spoon is fading away.


3. Adjusting the stopper


The most important thing for maintaining the snuff bottle is the bottle cap. In addition to the aesthetic factor, the stopper could prevent inside painting from external influences, such as the entry of insects (anti-insect) and moisture. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the lid of the stopper will become loose and easy to fall off after long-time use. Therefore, some snuff bottle collectors will prepare some maintenance tools and materials to adjust the tightness of the plug, endeavoring to reduce the chance of air ingress. Interestingly, some collectors seized these opportunities to change the material and color of the lid to match different inside painted snuff bottles. Each color combination will make the snuff bottle look different and have a brand-new look. Replacing the cap is like replacing a snuff bottle with different clothes.


Different size and material of stopper for snuff bottles. D.D Art
Different size and material of stopper for snuff bottles

4. Clean after every time play


Many collectors like to hold the snuff bottle in their hands for a long time and enjoy this kind of texture. However, after playing, you should wipe the bottle with a soft white cloth slightly moistened with water to clean the outer appearance. Please don't leave the sweat on the bottle and then put it back into the box. This action will affect the surroundings in the box. Some people may think that it only has a negligible effect. However, the long-term impact on the snuff bottle should not be underestimated.


Please remember to clean the bottle's body with a clean, soft, and white cloth dampened with clean water. Otherwise, there will be concerns about scratches. The clean water must also be careful not to drip into the snuff bottle. If it unfortunately happened, you could use a small dry cloth or cotton swab to douse the water slightly and then dried in the shade. Every snuff bottle is like a baby, which requires careful care.


Clean the snuff bottle with a curved cutton swab. D.D Art
Clean the snuff bottle with a curved cotton swab

5. Anti-Fall and a capable box


The snuff bottle is a very delicate and exquisite work of art. However, due to the nature of its fragile material, collectors must take care not to drop it on the ground during the play. Otherwise, your snuff bottle may become nothing different from the glass shards... This happens very often.


In the selection of storage boxes, the traditional brocade boxes with Chinese characteristics are ubiquitous. Because of the softness of the lining and a certain degree of moisture-proof function, most people choose to use brocade boxes as a collection box. However, D.D Art believes that if the inner lining is a soft, impact-resistant box and is capable of being moisture-proof, collectors feel free to select the box. Unless collectors have a personal preference for such traditional boxes, the snuff bottle collection is not necessarily confined to brocade boxes.


A Chinese brocade box. D.D Art collection.
A Chinese brocade box. D.D Art collection

In conclusion


the daily maintenance of snuff bottles is indispensable. We have met many collectors who ignored the collection environment of the inside painted snuff bottles. When they wanted to savor carefully, they found the color inside the bottle was no longer as vigorous as in the past. The destruction of the inside painting has the characteristic of irreversibility. Once the paint is damaged, it will not reverse. The daily maintenance of snuff bottles is an essential point that all snuff bottle collectors cannot ignore. Fortunately, compared to other works of art, the care of snuff bottles is not that difficult. As long as you exercise the five points for daily maintenance, your inside-painted snuff bottles will surely last forever and be your treasure as always.

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