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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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Chinese and Japanese Antique Cloisonne Box 4pc LOT
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese and Japanese Antique Cloisonne Box 4pc LOT
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$1253 Bids
Fine Chinese Silver Figural Peach Box
Jun 27, 5:00 PM PDT
Fine Chinese Silver Figural Peach Box
by MBA Seattle Auction LLC
Est: $100- $300
$1753 Bids
A Collection of Eclectic Objetcs including a Chinese Lacquerware Box with Central Ram Motif
Jun 26, 6:00 PM AEST
A Collection of Eclectic Objetcs including a Chinese Lacquerware Box with Central Ram Motif
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD40- AUD60
AUD353 Bids
Group of Chinese Blue Cloth Covered Fitted Boxes Various Sizes
Jun 25, 10:00 AM EDT
Group of Chinese Blue Cloth Covered Fitted Boxes Various Sizes
by Weschler's
Est: $50- $100
$653 Bids
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A pair of Chinese burgundy and gilt lacquered boxes, 24 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 18 3/4 in. (61.6 x 40 x 47.6 cm.)
Jun 26, 9:00 AM PDT
A pair of Chinese burgundy and gilt lacquered boxes, 24 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 18 3/4 in. (61.6 x 40 x 47.6 cm.)
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $200- $300
$1502 Bids
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Chinese Silver/ Gold Filled Box
Jun 28, 11:00 AM PDT
Chinese Silver/ Gold Filled Box
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
Chinese Pair Enamel Cloisonne Camel Statues Boxes
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Pair Enamel Cloisonne Camel Statues Boxes
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$752 Bids
A Chinese Carved Red Lacquer Rectangular Box and Cover with Ink Inside
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
A Chinese Carved Red Lacquer Rectangular Box and Cover with Ink Inside
by Topwells
Est: $80- $100
$1252 Bids
A PORCELAIN CARVED SEAL-PASTE BOX AND COVER. FEATURING
Jun 26, 11:00 AM EDT
A PORCELAIN CARVED SEAL-PASTE BOX AND COVER. FEATURING
by Metropolitan Auction of Art Inc.
Est: $2,500- $4,500
$9501 Bid
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Chinese Wood Box & Bone Mahjong
Jun 28, 11:00 AM PDT
Chinese Wood Box & Bone Mahjong
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
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A FINE FAMILLE VERTE CHARACTER PATTERN PORCELAIN BOX
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
A FINE FAMILLE VERTE CHARACTER PATTERN PORCELAIN BOX
by William's Auctions, LLC
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Chinese Peking Glass Antique Landscape Box SIGNED
Jun 26, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Peking Glass Antique Landscape Box SIGNED
by Hill Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
A CHINESE JADE INLAID LACQUER FAN-SHAPED BOX WITH CARVED PEONY DESIGN
Jun 30, 11:00 AM JST
A CHINESE JADE INLAID LACQUER FAN-SHAPED BOX WITH CARVED PEONY DESIGN
by Fukuoka Yumekai Auction
Est: ¥0- ¥0
¥30,0001 Bid
Antique Chinese Silver Gilt Box
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Chinese Silver Gilt Box
by World Auction Gallery
Est: $300- $400
$1501 Bid
A Chinese Cloisonné Trinket Box with Cherry Blossom Motifs
Jun 30, 11:00 AM AEST
A Chinese Cloisonné Trinket Box with Cherry Blossom Motifs
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD40- AUD80
AUD201 Bid
Chinese lacquerware lidded box
Jul 06, 9:00 AM CEST
Chinese lacquerware lidded box
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €100- €300
€1001 Bid
A CHINESE EXPORT GILT BLACK LACQUER TEA CABBY WITH 'FIGURE STORY' DESIGN
Jun 30, 11:00 AM JST
A CHINESE EXPORT GILT BLACK LACQUER TEA CABBY WITH 'FIGURE STORY' DESIGN
by Fukuoka Yumekai Auction
Est: ¥0- ¥0
¥30,0001 Bid
CHINESE EXPORT CAMPHOR WOOD BOX
Jun 29, 11:00 AM EDT
CHINESE EXPORT CAMPHOR WOOD BOX
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $300- $400
$1501 Bid
TIBETAN IMPERIAL FOO DOG TURQUOISE CORAL BRASS BOXES
Jun 29, 10:00 AM EDT
TIBETAN IMPERIAL FOO DOG TURQUOISE CORAL BRASS BOXES
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
(2) CHINESE CARVED BONE CRIBBAGE BOARD & BOX
Jun 23, 11:00 AM EDT
(2) CHINESE CARVED BONE CRIBBAGE BOARD & BOX
by White's Auctions
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
Antique Chinese Bone & Bamboo Mahjong Set 140 Pieces In Decorative Box
Jun 29, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique Chinese Bone & Bamboo Mahjong Set 140 Pieces In Decorative Box
by RB Fine Arts
Est: $250- $400
$501 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Boxes


William's Auctions, LLC

William's Auctions, LLC

Twents Veilinghuis

Twents Veilinghuis

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc

Walnut Tree Auction House, Inc