Panthic, Education, Community

Historical Collection Under the Hammer

By Anju Kaur | August 17, 2011
The collection includes a wealth of Sikh paintings, a fine statue of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and miniatures painted on ivory. But perhaps the most intriguing items in the sale are the historical documents.
Among the documents is a book, ‘India – Annexation of the Punjab and the Maharajah Duleep Singh,’ first edition, 1882 by Major Evans Bell. According to the description, “A fascinating take on the British activities in the Punjab. Major Evans Bell who had served in Madras for a number of years was for his time what would today be described as a radical thinker… In this book he gave the lie to British claims of its reasons for the annexation of the Punjab: “This will be enough to show that the Maharaja Duleep Singh did not in 1849 and does not now stand before the British government as an object of bounty but as one who was in full and lawful possession of a sovereignty with whom “terms” equivalent to a treaty of territorial cession were concluded, which gave something like regularity and legality to what would otherwise have borne an aspect of naked lawlessness and to what was in fact no “conquest” but a violent breach of trust...” It is expected to sell for about £175.
Also among the documents is a group of five letters and documents relating to Maharajah Duleep Singh in regards to the discharge of Sir John Login as the maharajah’s guardian, and retirement from service. Some letters embossed with stamp of East India House include one that is dated Dec. 1, 1858. Another from the East India Company to John Login states that the Maharajah Duleep Singh’s disbursements in Europe have been examined and satisfactory. According to the description, one is a letter from the East India Company to John Login, which states that the Maharajah Duleep Singh’s disbursements in Europe have been examined and satisfactory. Another is an intimate record of the maharajah’s household and internal affairs during a very early time in his life in England. The group is expected to sell for about £1350.
Another of the documents for auction is a contemporary press cutting on the end of the Sikh Wars and the convention with Maharajah Duleep Singh, together with a page from the Illustrated London News for April 11, 1846, with two steel engraved illustrations from the Punjab. It is estimated to sell for £40.
A rare copy of ‘Umdat–Ut-Tawarikhi Daftar III Parts (I-V),’ by Lala Sohan Lal Suri, chronicles the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, 1831-1839. It is translated from Persian into English with corresponding Christian dates, with explanatory and elucidatory notes by V. S. Suri. It is a rare and “a valuable intimate account of the daily events at the Sikh Durbar,” the description says. It is expected to sell for £250.
A large folio titled, ‘Disturbances in the Punjab 1920,’ details government issued papers containing General Dyer’s statement and version of events, including charges regarding gun fire in the Jallianwallah Bagh. He replies to charge of excessive force and explains his motives, his lack of warning to the crowd, closing of street where Miss Sherwood was assaulted, neglect of wounded, and more. According to the description, this is “an important document of the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre in 1919 where crowds of Sikhs including women and children were fired upon. The event shook the Empire and accelerated the Indian independence movement. Very rare.” It is expected to sell for £175.
A rare first edition of  the ‘Journal of a Subaltern during the Campaign in the Punjaub September 1840 to March 1849’ by Daniel August Sandford is a detailed account of Sandford who fought in the battles of Ramnuggur, Chillianwalla and Goojerat, during the Sikh Wars. It is expected to sell for £250.
And a rare, censored book, ‘History of the Sikhs,’ is the “first complete non-bias history of the Sikhs written by Captain J. D. Cunningham of the British Indian Army. The account was seen as the most honest account of the history of the Sikhs, with Cunningham even stating that Sikh generals were in the pay of the British in the First Sikh War. For this reason this 1849 first edition was suppressed by (Lord) Dalhousie and is most rare. Cunningham was ordered to revise the book and was demoted, causing his death soon after. The book is widely seen as the epitome (of) Sikh study, and this edition is extremely scarce…” It is expected to sell for £1,000.
Among the works of art for auction is an original lithograph of the Battle of Ferozeshah by James Duffield Harding, from the original drawing by Charles Stewart Hardinge (1822-1894), the eldest son of the first governor general, Viscount Hardinge. It is plate seven from the ‘Recollections of India, Part 1, British India and the Punjab’ by Harding, in 1847. It shows a scene from the First Anglo Sikh War, and depicts one of the three great battlefields of that war – Ferozeshah - which lies 11 miles east of Ferozepore, about nineteen miles from the left bank of the Sutlej River. It is estimated to sell for £600.
Another is a German photogravure of the old walkway of Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, showing various bungas and houses of Sikh nobles from the 1920s. Images of the surrounding building around the sarover are very rare as most photographers concentrated on the temple itself. The Sikh structures were later demolished to widen the walkway during the 1950s. It is expected to sell for £135.
The sale also features a fine selection of Company School watercolors, a plate from the Royal Dinner Service of Maharajah Duleep Singh, which is expected to sell for £8,000,  and a cabinet made by the Bentley Motor Company for Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, which is expected to sell for £10,000.