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Gandhi's charkha sold for 110,000 pounds at UK auction

November 05, 2013 22:43 IST

Mahatma Gandhi's 'charkha' which he used in Yerwada Jail during the 'Quit India Movement' was sold at an auction in the UK for a whopping 110,000 pounds, nearly double the expected price.

Gandhi's last will was also sold for 20,000 pounds at a specialist sale of historical documents and artefacts by the Mullock's Auction house in Shropshire.

"Gandhi's charkha was sold for 110,000 pounds at the auction while his last will fetched 20,000 pounds," Michael Morris, a Mullock's official, told PTI.

The charkha (spinning wheel), with a minimum bid of 60,000 pounds, was used by Gandhi while he was in the prison in Pune and was later gifted to American Free Methodist missionary Revd Floyd A Puffer.

Puffer was a pioneer in Indian educational and industrial cooperatives. He invented a bamboo plow that was later adopted by Gandhi.

Gandhi presented the charkha to Puffer for his work in Colonial India.

Gandhi's will was written in Gujarati at the Sabarmati Ashram and is a highly important document which supersedes the will dated 1921 that had been sold at an earlier auction by the Mullock's.

The will provides an historic insight into Gandhi's thinking and his speculations for the future some five years on from his previous will.

Over 60 of Gandhi's most prized possessions, including the 'charkha', important documents, photographs and books are up for sale at the auction.

"The origins and operation of the Yerwada portable charkha are described in the American monthly Popular Science (December 1931): 'Mahatma Gandhi ... has devised a portable spinning wheel that folds into a bundle about the size of a portable typewriter and has a handle for carrying," Mullock's website said in its description of the sale item.

"When unfolded for use it is operated by turning a small crank which runs the two wheels and spindle of the device. Gandhi worked out the details of this machine it is reported while he was confined to the Yerwada jail in India. He often mentioned that his daily spinning was a form of meditation," it said.

Gandhi spent several years in Yerwada Jail during India's freedom struggle notably in 1932 and later in 1942 during the Quit India movement along with many other freedom fighters.

Ahead of the auction, Mullock's specialist Richard Westwood-Brookes said, "This would have been one of Gandhi's most prized possessions as he devised the workings of it himself. The charkha was used by him in Yerwada Jail whilst fighting for the rights and independence of India. It has impeccable provenance and is unquestionably the most important Gandhi artifact we have ever had for sale."

The sale of items by the auction house will also include a number of historic items related to the Sikh and MysoreKingdom.

Most notable of them are a 19th century painting of Tipu Sultan, a British school painting of the Sultan's daughter dated 1837, an early account dating to 1805 of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the lion of Punjab and a rare miniature Koran printed for Muslim soldiers who fought alongside allied forces in the First World War.

Image: Mahatma Gandhi by the charkha in the 1920s

Photographs: Creative Commons 

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