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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Mahatma Gandhi's charkha to be auctioned in UK today

Vanita Srivastava , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 05, 2013
First Published: 01:05 IST(5/11/2013) | Last Updated: 08:52 IST(5/11/2013)

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s most valuable possessions, the ‘charkha’ (spinning wheel) he used in Yerwada Jail, Pune will be put to auction at a prestigious British auction house on November 5 with the minimum bid set at £60,000.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, Historical Documents Specialist for Mullock's Auctioneers said that around 550 items would be auctioned, of which about 200 are related to India and of these around 60 are related to Mahatma Gandhi, including the charkha, the draft of his will and some of his letters, besides other items.

"Mahatma Gandhi had devised a portable spinning wheel that folds into a bundle about the size of a portable typewriter. This was a most personal possession of Gandhiji during his years in prison fighting for the independence of his country." Richard said.

The charkha used by Gandhi while he was in the prison at Pune during India’s freedom struggle, was given to the American Free Methodist missionary Revd Floyd A Puffer.

"The auction will begin at 1pm GMT at Ludlow Racecourse, Shropshire on November 5. While the draft of Gandhi's will is clearly one of the major documents of the 20th century, we expect that to make £30,000 and his spinning wheel which he used to spin the thread to make his own clothing while in prison in the 1920s is expected to make £60,000," he told HT.

Mullock's is Europe's premier auction house specialising in sporting collectables, fishing memorabilia, historical documents and ephemera.

Personally, Richard said he wanted these to be obtained by either the Indian Government or by someone who will make it available for Indian culture and heritage for years to come.

"I am sorry that the Indian Government is not going to come in for any of these items - it is always my personal desire that important material goes to the right place, but of course it is entirely up to individual bidders. I did have talks with a representative of the Indian High Commission in London about the sale and supplied them with the catalogue"

The interest in the Gandhi items, he said comes almost exclusively from Indians either in India or abroad.

On how much was he estimating the chakra to be sold for he said, "It could make more than the estimate, the bidding on the other hand might not reach the estimate in which case it might go unsold."

The highest price he said that they had achieved for an individual item so far was for a highly important letter of Gandhi which was sold in February, 2013 for a world record price of £115,000.


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