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'New' style of Deep-Carved counters

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One of the pleasures of collecting Chinese gaming counters is that there seem always to be 'new' styles of counter that surface, no matter how long one is collecting. That is true of the beautiful counters in this group. They are  an unusual mixture. They have very finely fretted borders which include birds in flight, flowers and scrolling leaves; large butterflies adorn the long-oblongs as well. The m-o-p is of very good quality, being bright and flawless. The sides and reverse of the counters have well-drawn scenes of slightly better than average quality; but the surprise comes in the roundel to the front: deep-carved character scenes! And very good quality carving too. It is astonishing that the artist was able to relief-carve these scenes without penetrating right the way through to the other side; I wonder how he managed to do that? These are the first counters that I have seen in this style. There were only two shapes in the group which may mean that they were produced as a whist-marker set - in around 1840. A very pleasing new style!

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