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Chinese Boxes

More than just your typical storage box, Chinese boxes of brass, wood, or porcelain were used since the Qing Dynasty to give gifts, store jewelry, and contain important documents and other personal items. Some boxes were made of hand-painted and glazed white porcelain, or of metal that featured detailed engravings, but boxes were most commonly made of wood.

Wood boxes can be found coated in lacquer, even inlaid with precious stones, other types of wood, or mother of pearl to give extra emphasis to the flamboyant designs on the surface of the box. Metal hinges and clasps are commonly added to attach a lid to the box, and sometimes brass is added to the edges as an extra decorative detail. Boxes can also be made of silver, jade, ivory, or copper.

Chinese boxes come in all different shapes as well. While many are in the traditional rectangular shape, some are given circular, hexagonal shapes, or even octagonal shapes. All are purposefully ornamented to give the exterior an elegant appearance.


Quick Facts

  • Brass and copper boxes are great for storing cigars. These metal boxes are typically decorated in the French cloisonne style using enamel as a paste, and inlaying precious stones or colored glass
  • Lacquer is applied to these boxes in many layers. A box needs at least 30 coats. Some boxes have been coated with up to 300 layers of lacquer before completion, and each layer needs to be dried between coats
  • Lacquer is made from the sap of the Rhus Vernicifera tree, which is a close relative to poison ivy. This sap is highly toxic

Recommended Items at Auction

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Oriental Floral Cloisonne Hinged Lid Box
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Oriental Floral Cloisonne Hinged Lid Box
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$4011 Bids
Chinese box in lacquered and gilded wood, late 19th Century- early 20th Century.
Oct 28, 4:00 PM CEST
Chinese box in lacquered and gilded wood, late 19th Century- early 20th Century.
by Balclis
Est: €400- €500
€65010 Bids
BOX LOT OF CHINESE CLOISONNE ITEMS
Nov 19, 9:00 AM EST
BOX LOT OF CHINESE CLOISONNE ITEMS
by Oakridge Auction Gallery
Est: $60- $100
$303 Bids
19th C Chinese Lacquer Brass Box Figural Landscape
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
19th C Chinese Lacquer Brass Box Figural Landscape
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $20- $15,000
$302 Bids
Small box of Chinese herb
Nov 01, 2:00 PM PDT
Small box of Chinese herb
by International Auction Gallery
Est: $80- $150
$202 Bids
Chinese Clair-de-lune Porcelain Vase w/ Box - Marked
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CDT
Chinese Clair-de-lune Porcelain Vase w/ Box - Marked
by Revere Auctions
Est: $2,000- $4,000
$1,0002 Bids
TRIO OF 19TH CENTURY CHINESE ENAMEL BOXES
Oct 29, 10:00 AM CDT
TRIO OF 19TH CENTURY CHINESE ENAMEL BOXES
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $100- $300
$1752 Bids
A Chinese Rosewood & Brass Jewellery Box
Oct 30, 11:00 AM AEST
A Chinese Rosewood & Brass Jewellery Box
by Danielle Elizabeth Antique & Estate Auctioneers
Est: AUD60- AUD120
AUD102 Bids
19TH C. CHINESE IVORY CRICKET BOX
Nov 12, 11:00 AM EST
19TH C. CHINESE IVORY CRICKET BOX
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
CHINE Exceptionnelle boîte à jeux
Nov 03, 2:30 PM CET
CHINE Exceptionnelle boîte à jeux
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €150- €300
€1501 Bid
A CHINESE CARVED JADE BOX AND COVER
Oct 31, 8:00 PM EDT
A CHINESE CARVED JADE BOX AND COVER
by NC Auctioneer Inc.
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$6001 Bid
Chinese Lacquer box with mother of pearl decoration
Dec 04, 2:00 PM CET
Chinese Lacquer box with mother of pearl decoration
by Signens Kunstauktionen
Est: €80- €100
€701 Bid
19th Cent. Chinese Porcelain Famille Rose Scholars Box
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
19th Cent. Chinese Porcelain Famille Rose Scholars Box
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $200- $2,000
$1001 Bid
A CHINESE BLUE AND WHITE CIRCULAR BOX AND COVER AND A FAMILLE ROSE BOWL.
Nov 19, 9:00 AM GMT
A CHINESE BLUE AND WHITE CIRCULAR BOX AND COVER AND A FAMILLE ROSE BOWL.
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £100- £200
£1001 Bid
19th Cent. Chinese Gold Hairpiece with Original Box
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
19th Cent. Chinese Gold Hairpiece with Original Box
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $1,000- $4,000
$5001 Bid
Chinese Zitan Wood Carved Rectangular Box
Oct 30, 1:00 PM EDT
Chinese Zitan Wood Carved Rectangular Box
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $20- $15,000
$201 Bid
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SILVER CAST FLORAL PATTERN BOX
Nov 01, 10:00 AM EDT
SILVER CAST FLORAL PATTERN BOX
by Empire Auction House
Est: $800- $1,000
$5001 Bid
Chinese jewellery box in carved, lacquered and gilded wood, 19th Century.
Oct 28, 4:00 PM CEST
Chinese jewellery box in carved, lacquered and gilded wood, 19th Century.
by Balclis
Est: €350- €400
€3501 Bid
A CHINESE CARVED FIGURAL HARDWOOD BOX AND COVER
Oct 31, 8:00 PM EDT
A CHINESE CARVED FIGURAL HARDWOOD BOX AND COVER
by NC Auctioneer Inc.
Est: $800- $1,000
$2001 Bid
QING DYNASTY CHINESE HARDWOOD SCHOLAR BOX SIGNED
Oct 30, 3:00 PM EDT
QING DYNASTY CHINESE HARDWOOD SCHOLAR BOX SIGNED
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $500- $1,000
$3400 Bids
OLD CHINESE CHESS SET WITH BOX
Oct 30, 3:00 PM EDT
OLD CHINESE CHESS SET WITH BOX
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$7500 Bids
OLD CHINESE CHESS SET WITH BOX
Oct 30, 3:00 PM EDT
OLD CHINESE CHESS SET WITH BOX
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$7500 Bids
tea vessel, China, 2.h.19.th c., box black varnish with
Oct 30, 10:00 AM CEST
tea vessel, China, 2.h.19.th c., box black varnish with
by Henry's Auktionshaus AG
Est: €250- €500
€2400 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Boxes


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

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Empire Auction House

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Ander's Auction

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China Arts Auction