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Glasses, letters of Gandhiji to be auctioned in UK

London: A pair of Mahatma Gandhi`s round- rimmed glasses, `charkha` and a pinch of soil and blades of grass from the place where he was assassinated in 1948 are among several rare items to be put up for auction in Shropshire on April 17. The action, to be conducted by Mullock`s, is expected to fetch nearly 100,000 pounds.

The guide price for the items set by the auctioneer 10,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds is the highest for three items in the collection: the pair of glasses, `charkha` (spinning wheel) and a casket containing the soil and blades of grass from the spot where Gandhi was killed in New Delhi.

The soil and blades of grass were collected by one P P Nambiar, who describes the samples in a provenance, and are placed in a small wooden casket containing a small glass topped box. The description says, "The casket comes with a letter of provenance by P P Nambiar dated September 24, 1996 saying that the recipient`… has today received the most sacred of all relics a fraction of the pinch of soil I collected on 30 January 1948 from the spot where the Father of our nation M K Gandhi fell to the bullets of his assassin…".

Mullock`s says that the item is also accompanied by a copy of `True but never heard before by P P Nambiar, which is a personal account of collecting the soil sample on the day Gandhi was murdered. It quotes Nambiar`s words: `… in my search I found a drop of blood on the grass almost dried. I cut the grass and also took two pinches of soil from the brink of the pothole which I wrapped in a piece of Hindi newspaper found nearby. This is in my box even today. I keep it in a jewellery box brought by me from Indo-China in a later year. To me it is a treasure of immense sentimental value…`. Gandhi`s glasses under auction were bought in London around 1890 when he studied Law.

The item is described as "corroded with age", and comes with the original felt bearing the name of H Cannam Optician 23 St Aldate Street Gloucester. The `charkha` is described as being in an `as used` condition but still retaining its inner mechanism. Other items include a 10inch 78rpm Columbia disc of Gandhi giving his spiritual message signed by him, original photographs of Gandhi visiting London in 1931, and letters written to Raghavan, Sgt NER Poduwal in Rangoon, letters written by Gandhi in Gujarati and a prayer book in Gujarati.

Mullock`s representative Richard Westwood-Brookes said: "This is a wonderful archive of material with excellent provenance. It comes from the close friend of one of Gandhi`s disciples and is of great importance to the Indian nation". He said: "The soil upon which Gandhi fell is of particular significance to the Indian nation and is like a holy relic. The letters from Gandhi and his spectacles are also greatly important and are as close as you can get to the man". Weston-Brookes said the market for Indian items such as the Gandhi archives had picked up in recent years and there were an increasing number of collectors. "It is a great privilege to sell these objects that are rightly regarded as important pieces of Indian history", he said.

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