Enquiry about object: 3013

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    Chinese Export Silver Cotton Reel Holder

    Southern China
    18th-19th century

    length: 6cm, weight: 38g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This very unusual egg-shaped box most probably was made to hold a reel of cotton. The hinged lid flips open to reveal a central post around which cotton could have been wound.

    The outside is chased with grapevines, grapes and squirrels or tree shews. Such motifs occasionally appear in Chinese export silver – see for example the cover photograph of Forbes (1975) and Marlowe (1990, p. 27, p. 43)

    The top is fitted with a small silver eyelet through which is a small hoop.

    The item is extremely well made – the walls are double-walled which is remarkable for such a small and curved item.

    The box is not marked; no similar item with such a form seems to have been published. The item is in excellent condition.


    Forbes, H.A.C. et al, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1885, Museum of the American China Trade, 1975.

    Marlowe, A.J., Chinese Export Silver, John Sparks, 1990.

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