The Bloch collection of Chinese snuff bottles

Bonhams' Hong Kong showroom played host to Part V of the renowned Mary and George Bloch collection on Sunday (May 27).

George Bloch collection
The price achieved by this bottle is not to be sniffed at

The latest dispersal from what Bonhams describes as "the world's most famous private collection" was 100% sold, for a total of HK$42m ($5.4m). The auction served as one of three "golden gavel" sales in celebration of the fifth anniversary of Bonhams' Hong Kong showroom.

So far, all five auctions of this monumental collection have achieved golden gavel status, setting an unprecedented record for the auction house.

Bonhams' head of Chinese ceramics, Julian King, commented: "As a growing number of collectors vie for the best snuff bottles, their value has remained steady. Over the last decade prices have increased over fourfold making this collectable a highly portable alternative investment".

Several great collections of snuff bottles are still in existence, but none can rival that of the late George Bloch (1920-2009). The collection, which consists of 1,720 snuff bottles, had been carefully compiled by Bloch from 1983 onwards and has been exhibited at both the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the British Museum.

The most expensive item from the collection so far was a 4.2cm high bottle which was produced for the Imperial Court of 18th century China. It appeared in the collection's first sale in 2010, where it achieved HK$9.28m ($1.1m), an impressive increase of 2,993% on its high estimate of HK$3m.

The top lot of the May 27 sale was an 18th century "famille-rose" enamel on copper snuff bottle, depicting an elegant European lady with her children. The piece, which was created in the Imperial Palace workshops in Beijing, exceeded expectations at the auction when it sold to a European buyer for HK$4.8m ($618,000).

Paul Fraser Collectibles will be covering the next part of this remarkable collection when it is announced. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter to ensure you don't miss out.

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