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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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A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL BOX WITH COVER
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
A CHINESE CLOISONNE ENAMEL BOX WITH COVER
by Berkeley Auction Gallery
Est: $700- $900
$2505 Bids
Chinese Glazed Cau Mau Shipwreck Box
Dec 01, 10:00 AM GMT
Chinese Glazed Cau Mau Shipwreck Box
by TimeLine Auctions
Est: £80- £100
£253 Bids
A Chinese Antique Metal Box Yuanju Mark
Dec 17, 9:30 AM EST
A Chinese Antique Metal Box Yuanju Mark
by Luban Antique
Est: $50- $100
$102 Bids
Chinese Travel Dressing Chest Box
Dec 02, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese Travel Dressing Chest Box
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$652 Bids
Tibetan Travel Box
Nov 30, 10:00 AM CET
Tibetan Travel Box
by Deutsch Auktionen
Est: €350- €0
€2202 Bids
Antique Zitan Hand Carved Dragon Jewelry Box
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Zitan Hand Carved Dragon Jewelry Box
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $450- $600
$2252 Bids
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PETITE BOITE COUVERTE EN JADE VERT ÉPINARD Chine, dynastie Qing (1664-1911)
Dec 06, 2:00 PM CET
PETITE BOITE COUVERTE EN JADE VERT ÉPINARD Chine, dynastie Qing (1664-1911)
by Artcurial
Est: €300- €500
€4002 Bids
Vtg Chinese Bronze Cigarette Box & (2) Brass Birds
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
Vtg Chinese Bronze Cigarette Box & (2) Brass Birds
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
Antique Chinese Scholars Document Box Hand Carved Imperial Dragon Zitan Wood 19th Century
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Chinese Scholars Document Box Hand Carved Imperial Dragon Zitan Wood 19th Century
by Hess Fine Art
Est: $2,000- $5,000
$202 Bids
Chinese Ming Dynasty Yao-zhou Kiln Porcelain Box
Nov 30, 11:30 AM EST
Chinese Ming Dynasty Yao-zhou Kiln Porcelain Box
by Latair Auctions
Est: $600- $900
$1001 Bid
Vintage Chinese Cloisonne Tri-Divided Box
Dec 01, 9:00 AM PST
Vintage Chinese Cloisonne Tri-Divided Box
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $75
$251 Bid
DALBERGIA ODORIFERA BOX 黃花梨木帖盒
Dec 04, 1:00 PM CST
DALBERGIA ODORIFERA BOX 黃花梨木帖盒
by Treasure Art
Est: NT$0- NT$0
NT$10,0001 Bid
Chinese Porcelain Stacking Set of Boxes
Nov 29, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Porcelain Stacking Set of Boxes
by Greenwich Auction
Est: $150- $250
$501 Bid
A CLOISONNE FLOWERS SCHOLAR'S BOX
Jan 03, 9:00 AM EST
A CLOISONNE FLOWERS SCHOLAR'S BOX
by Roswell Auctions
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0001 Bid
Chinese Silver "Bangle" Box
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese Silver "Bangle" Box
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $800- $1,200
$4001 Bid
Chinese Cloisonne Box goose design on lid, stylized flora c1900 Light blue
Dec 18, 10:00 AM PST
Chinese Cloisonne Box goose design on lid, stylized flora c1900 Light blue
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $120- $150
$901 Bid
A 19TH CENTURY CHINESE HARDWOOD AND MOTHER OF PEARL INLAID CIRCULAR BOX OF LARGE SIZE
Nov 30, 9:30 AM GMT
A 19TH CENTURY CHINESE HARDWOOD AND MOTHER OF PEARL INLAID CIRCULAR BOX OF LARGE SIZE
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £100- £200
£501 Bid
Chinese Carved Bone Dragon Pill Box
Dec 06, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Carved Bone Dragon Pill Box
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $25- $200
$251 Bid
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GILT BRONZE CLOISONNE PEACH SHAPE BOX
Nov 29, 11:00 AM EST
GILT BRONZE CLOISONNE PEACH SHAPE BOX
by Empire Auction House
Est: $800- $1,000
$5001 Bid
Fine Old Chinese Zitan Or Hardwood Jewelry Case Box with Carvings, 15 3/4" long
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Fine Old Chinese Zitan Or Hardwood Jewelry Case Box with Carvings, 15 3/4" long
by Washingtonian Auction
Est: $800- $1,200
$501 Bid
Late Qing Chinese Carved Wooden Cricket Box
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Late Qing Chinese Carved Wooden Cricket Box
by Atlanta Auction Gallery, ltd
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
Old Chinese Cloisonne Duck Head Box or Bottle
Dec 01, 9:00 AM PST
Old Chinese Cloisonne Duck Head Box or Bottle
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $75
$251 Bid
Vintage Carved Jade Inlaid Chinese Dresser Box
Dec 04, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage Carved Jade Inlaid Chinese Dresser Box
by Monarch Auction and Estate Services
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Boxes


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Berkeley Auction Gallery

Berkeley Auction Gallery

Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

Merces Gallery LLC

Merces Gallery LLC