Friday, 21 October 2016

Animal Bone Snuff Bottle

Recently I was window-shopping in Orchard Road, a busy shopping street in Singapore. I saw a couple of snuff bottles on a display tray at the front window of a jewelry shop. There was one made of jadeite that caught my attention ( it has traces of green shades). They are other snuff bottles made of gem materials. There is also one little snuff bottle (top left corner) that looks pretty good with the carving of bird and flowers. I even thought that it was made from ivory (milky color).

Display tray showing some cute snuff bottles
At first, I was not very keen to ask for the price as things on display in a jewelry shop in Orchard Road don't really come cheap. Just imagine the rental these guys pay for a shop in this exclusive area (tourists like to frequent this place).

After making a few rounds in the vicinity, I went back to the shop and decided to try my luck. I went in with a pretext of buying a gift for a friend and there was a tight budget to consider. The shop owner took out the tray from the window display and I had the chance of taking a closer look (even touch) at every item on the tray. The jade bottle was far too expensive, 8000 dollars. The one that looks like glass (bottom 3rd from left) was even more expensive, $13000. The owner told me it was made from green beryl, an expensive gem.

Then when I asked him about the one with bird and flower carving, he told me the price. It was one that I can afford. He then told me that it was not made from ivory but some kind of animal bone. He himself did not know what bone it was. I looked at the carving, it was of good quality. I believed nowadays no one would have the incentive (or talent) to create such a beautiful piece. For the price he quoted me, it was worth it. Snuff bottles were things of the past, this one could have some historical value.

Snuff Bottle with carving
I told him my intention was to buy it for a friend as a birth day gift and I had a certain budget for it. As most of the snuff bottles were very costly, I could only afford this particular one. I did not want to over-stretched myself in buying the gift. I also told him that if the discount was good, I would pay for it in cash (not credit card). After a few rounds of bargaining, I got a discount of 20% for it.

In the business of buying and selling art artifacts, both the buyer and seller must have some story to tell. This will ensure that the deal can go through. At the end of the day, I was happy that I finally got something that I wanted.

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