Rare books on Indian history to go under hammer at e-auction

Saffronart’s online auction will feature 101 books about life in the Indian subcontinent between the 17th and 19th centuries

With two online auctions targeting rare book collectors and history buffs, the year seems to have begun with a thirst for the past!

Saffronart is holding its first online auction for books, with a collection of 101 antiquarian titles. The curated collection features tomes that explore the history, landscapes, social life, costumes and customs of the Indian subcontinent between the 17th and 19th centuries, through lithographs, photographs and illustrations.

Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and Co-founder of Saffronart, says the volumes selected for this auction offer a slice of history through ancient accounts as early as the 17th century, detailed lithographs and aquatint illustrations, recipes, photographs and much more. “Vintage books in a good condition are often difficult to come by. Like most collectibles, rare books can be sourced from private collections, auctions or specialised dealers,” he says.

Auction of Freedom-era books, documents

  • Meanwhile, Prinseps is hosting an auction of books, newsletters and documents by luminaries of the Indian freedom struggle. Highlights include Jawaharlal Nehru’s autobiography, Towards Freedom, and his memoirs, The Discovery of India, besides the complete volumes of Mahatma Gandhi’s weekly newsletter Harijan Sevak. Other notable lots include two volumes of Bankim Chandra Sen’s magazine, Deshand, and The Calcutta Municipal Gazette: 23rd Anniversary and Independence Commemoration Number from Rathindranath Tagore and Mira Chatterjee’s collection.
  • Bidding starts on January 20 (till January 26) between 10 am and 7 pm. Lots from ₹1,000 onwards.

Among the leading lots is a four-volume compilation, Les Hindous (1804), by Belgian marine artist Frans Balthazar Solvyns, which is estimated to fetch ₹22-25 lakh and James Baillie Fraser’s Views in the Himala Mountains (1820), estimated at ₹30-40 lakh. Others include Captain Robert Melville Grindlay’s Scenery, Costumes and ArchitectureChiefly on the Western Side of India (1826-30); William Edwards’ Sketches in Scinde (1846), and Bourne & Shepherd’s Royal Photographic Album featuring original albumen prints documenting the extensive tour of the Prince of Wales in Indian subcontinent between 1875-76.

The auction will be on January 15 and 16, and the lots start from ₹25,000 onwards.

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