Rare Early 19th c Chinese Export Silver Toothpick Holder – Chinese Hallmark 老寶記

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.     Large pictures upper left of listing     .

An early 19th century Chinese export silver toothpick holder with a graceful floral plum blossom design and a slender form.    Chinese hallmark on the bottom is a mite fuzzy, 老寶記 Lao Bao Ji which can be literally translated as Old Treasure Shop.  This is a rare mark which I have not seen before in the literature at this time.
There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of  silver houses in old China.  Every city and major town had them.   Many of them minted silver ingots and issued paper notes exchangeable for silver or coin, functioning like local banks.  During  the Chinese export period in the 18-19th centuries, some along the coastal areas branched out to export silver.  They often contracted out to small shops (which did not have the language skills) to increase volume.   It is quite common to find two marks on Chinese export silver.  Often one mark is in alphabet letters.   In this case,  the shop is Lao Bao Ji.  There is a very muddy mark along the rim with the character 福, fu or luck.  The name Lao Bao suggests Shanghai or a city from the province there.
Notes.  1) Silver quality was quite consistent for any given house.  The ingots served as a type of private currency and over time only those with consistent purity would be accepted in other parts of the country.  The quality of silver must uphold the reputation of the shop’s currency role.  2)  The indent on the first picture above is from the hallmark on the bottom.  The shop probably was not yet accustomed to hollow ware production which uses thin silver stock.  Quite different from silver bullion.  This is an early export silver piece.
Diameter:  1 1/8″, height 2 3/8″                                                                   Price:  $150.00
Weight:    14 grams
Marks:  Full Chinese 老宝记 (lao bao ji), and 福 (fu)

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 Listing is for the silver holder only, pictures and props not included.  Thank you for visiting ☺
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