Gandhi memorabilia worth over Rs 15 lakh to go under hammer

Zafri Mudasser Nofil

New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) As many as 11 lots of MahatmaGandhi memorabilia, including signed notes, letters and akhadi cloth, will hit the auction block in the US this monthand expected to rake in over Rs 15 lakh.

The items will be offered in Bonhams auctioneers saleof Fine Books and Manuscripts on February 13 in California.

The auction house said the lots were acquired overseveral decades by a Los Angeles collector interested in thehistory of non-violent movements.

Of late, sale of personal belongings of Gandhi hascreated a lot of controversy and the government has tried invain to stop a couple of auctions abroad. Bonhams said theIndian government has not approached it regarding this sale.

"Manuscript collectors seek out letters, documents,and historical memorabilia because of their great admirationof a particular person, or because of their great interest ina particular historical moment," Catherine Williamson,Bonhams'' US director of Fine Books and Manuscripts, told PTI.

"Most of the great libraries in the world were foundedby private collectors, whose collecting activities saved manygreat rarities from oblivion," Williamson said.

Julian Roup, director of Press and Marketing, said thecollector''s primary focus has been letters and documents - oneof the jewels of his collection is the two-page autographletter of Gandhi in which he discusses his thoughts on theCatholic faith and other world religions.

In it, Gandhi makes a profound argument for globalreligious tolerance, "I have been confirmed in my belief thatone can grow fully in one''s own inherited faith (estimated atUSD 5000-7000)".

"Other manuscripts in the collection include severalnotes by Gandhi written on the margins of telegramcommunications from university students in India andsupporters in Pakistan, in which he sends words ofinspirations or arranges visits, giving a unique glimpse intohis daily correspondence ritual (estimated at USD 800-1200each)," Roup said.

"Also present is a one-page blood report performed onGandhi not long before his assassination, indicating that hewas generally in very good health (estimated at USD5000-7000). A related document was sold by Bonhams in 2010 forUSD 6,100," Roup said.

Perhaps the most unusual Gandhi item in the sale isnot a manuscript at all, but a white cotton khadi cloth, witha period note indicating it was hand woven in Gandhi''sashram, "It is the product advocated by him under his programof ''cottage industries'', and has come to replace the materialsmade by Manchester, England, and other manufacturers of theContinent altogether under the nationalist movement"(estimated at USD 4000-6000). .

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