This 19th century sterling silver paper weight is 8 15/16” long, 15/16” wide and 1/8” thick. The raised images on the bar depict a young immortal sitting under an old pine tree. He has just opened a magic round box from which bats, the symbol of good luck, are flying. A crane, the symbol of longevity, is standing on a pine tree branch over the young immortal.
The images on the paper weight recall a traditional story of “Two Immortals of Harmony and Unity.” In the story, one immortal holds a lotus leaf and the other holds a round magic box. The Chinese pronunciation of “lotus” (He) is the same as the word “harmony” (He) and the word “box” (He) is the same as the word “unity” (He). Hence, the traditional Chinese phrase “He He Er Xian” (Two Immortals of Harmony and Unity).
The image on this paper weight does not show two immortals; instead it depicts one immortal and one crane. The pronunciation of the word for crane is “He,” the same as the other key words in this traditional phrasing. This usage of another word with a similar pronunciation makes the image much more interesting. The image is now a crane and an immortal; but it all represents “Harmony and Unity”.
The four large characters on the top of the weight are “He He Er Xian.” The smaller four characters are the date “Bing Zhi Qiu Yue” (1876, autumn). The stamped two characters on the back of weight “Zu Yin” which means sterling silver. This piece weighs 5 ¾ ounces and is
in great condition.