An old photograph album containing photos of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire has been sold for `22 lakh after it was originally valued 22 times less than what it fetched at an auction, a media report said.
The leather-bound album containing 240 photos -- four of which are of Maharaja Duleep Singh -- once belonged to Sir John Spencer Login, who worked for the East India Company and was appointed Duleep Singh’s tutor when he was five, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.
The album was discovered recently by a house clearer who won a contract to clear out a property.
In one of the photographs, Duleep Singh is seen standing outside Osborne House, the former royal residence in Isle of Wight, when he was aged 17.
The Maharaja’s first drawing from 1853 was also part of the collection.
The auction of the album containing Maharaja Duleep Singh’s photos along with two other albums took place at C&T Auctioneers in Rochester, Kent.
A British buyer of Indian-descent purchased the albums for around `19 lakh, but with all the fees added, the overall price paid was `22 lakh, the daily added.
Victorian photography with Maharaja connection fetches album the high price
“Victorian photography is always very popular anyway but it was really the connection with the Maharaja that made it,” Matthew Tredwen of the auctioneer group was quoted as saying.
“He is very much a cult figure in the Sikh world. He was the last ruler in the Sikh Empire and quite an historical figure,” Tredwen added.
Duleep Singh was proclaimed Maharaja of the Sikh Empire in 1843 when he was aged five.
After the first Anglo-Sikh war, the British initially retained him as a nominal ruler under the tutelage of Sir John. But he was dethroned and sent to Britain in 1854, initially staying at Claridge’s Hotel in London before the East India Company took over a house in Wimbledon, south-west London, for him.
He was given money by the East India Company on condition that he complied with the will of the British government.
In the 1880s, Duleep Singh made a bid to return to India against the wishes of the British. He was detained in Aden and then returned to Europe.
He died in Paris in 1893, aged 55.