Bids over £55,000 for Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses from South Africa
The glasses were sent last week to the auction house in an ordinary envelope put in its letter-box by an unnamed vendor who did not realise its value. The glasses were in the vendor’s family for nearly a century, given to his uncle by Gandhi between 1920 and 1930.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 00:37 IST
A pair of gold-plated circular glasses worn by Mahatma Gandhi during his time in South Africa has attracted bids of £50,000 – way over the base estimate of £10,000-15,000, its Bristol-based auctioneer confirmed on Monday.
“We’ve had interest from all over the world - India, America, Russia, Canada, Australia, etc”, said Andy Stowe of East Bristol Auctions. The auction is to be held on August 21, with the next bid already set at a minimum of £55,000.
The glasses were sent last week to the auction house in an ordinary envelope put in its letter-box by an unnamed vendor who did not realise its value. The glasses were in the vendor’s family for nearly a century, given to his uncle by Gandhi between 1920 and 1930.
The uncle was working with British Petroleum in South Africa, where Gandhi spent years before returning to India to launch the freedom struggle. “It can be presumed that these (glasses) were gifted by way of thanks from Gandhi for some good deed. A note from the vendor is included”, the auctioneer said.
Stowe said research confirmed the authenticity of the spectacles, calling the item a “special piece”.
The glasses are described by the auctioneer as being “of usual form, with sprung gold plated arms and prescription lenses. Jointed by a gold plated nose bar. The spectacles formed an important and somewhat iconic part of Gandhi’s overall appearance”.
“It was known that he would often give away his old or unwanted pairs to those in need or those who had helped him. A rare and important pair of spectacles”, it added.
Another Bristol-based company, Paul Fraser Collectibles, has put up for sale cutlery used by Gandhi during his incarceration at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune and at the house of shipping magnate Sumati Morarjee in Mumbai for £70,000.
The lot on sale since 2014 includes Gandhi’s metal food bowl, two wooden spoons and a wooden fork.