BENGALURU: A letter penned by Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV of the Mysore royal family, bearing the royal coat of arms in gold glitter, will be the cynosure of all eyes in the city on Saturday as it goes on auction.
The auction is being organised by Marudhar Arts, a licensed auctioneer, as part of the ongoing National Numismatic Exhibition. The “extremely rare” collectible is pegged at a base price of `25,000. It was sent by the ‘Philosopher King’ to Maharaja Sir Bhanwar Pal Deo Bahadur of Karauli (Rajasthan) on October 14, 1917.
The letter is a response to King Bahadur’s letter, which had lauded Wadiyar for conducting the Dasara festival in an excellent manner. Wadiyar’s letter runs thus: “My dear Maharaja Saheb, I thank Your Highness most sincerely for your congratulations to me on my Dasara festival and I hope, as you do, that it may prove an augury of the complete victory of the British Arms. With all good wishes for the health of Your Highness and your family. Your Highness’s sincere friend, Krishnaraja Wadiyar.”
Wadiyar ruled the princely state of Mysore from 1894 till his death in 1940. His rule was billed as `Rama Rajya’ by Mahatma Gandhi and the state was described as the ‘Model State’ by the British.
When asked about the price the letter is expected to sell at, Archie Manu, co-director at Marudhar Arts, did not give an exact figure but expressed optimism that it would fetch a high amount. He explained that the base price was fixed at `25,000 because it was the sum paid to the collector (name withheld) who had sold Marudhar Arts the letter. His father and co-director Rajendra Manu was more forthcoming. “We already have internet bidders showing interest (to pay) up to `40,000. I am confident of it (highest bid) crossing `1 lakh.”
The auction will be held between 5 pm and 8 pm on Saturday at The Bell Hotel and Convention Centre. The letter is likely to come up for bidding around 7.30 pm, Manu added. Three photos signed by Wadiyar too will be auctioned.
A novel aspect of this auction is the real-time audio and video bidding that will happen simultaneously on the website www.maruuction.com. “This is the first time in Asia this has been done in a numismatic auction,” Manu claimed.
Coin Fetches `6.25L
One gold and one silver coin (sold as one lot) belonging to the reign of Mubarak Shah, fetched the highest price of `6.25 lakh at the expo on Friday. It was among the 348 coins auctioned. It was bought by a North Indian bidder, said Manu. The same dye has been used on both coins and this is something very unique as usually, different dyes are used, Manu told Express. The base price quoted was `6 lakh.
The coins have a quotation from the Quran on the reverse. Another lot, of one gold and one silver coin from the Sultanate era, fetched `4.25 lakh.
“This pair is exceedingly rare and was being offered on auction for the first time ever,” said Archie Manu. The day’s auctioning was described as “good and satisfactory”.
On day two (Saturday), 579 coins will be up for bidding in two auctions.
three-day National Numismatic Exhibition Opens
The interest shown by the country’s youth in numismatics (study or collection of currency) is heartening, said Jan Lingen, regional secretary (Europe) of the Oriental Numismatic Society of London, on Friday.
Delivering the inaugural address at the three-day National Numismatic Exhibition at The Bell Hotel and Convention Centre, Lingen said every coin tells a story of its own. Lingen, who was born in the Netherlands, is known across the globe for his passion for Indian coins, and has written extensively on the subject.
Rezwan Razack, chairman of the Indian chapter of the International Bank Note Society, said the expo offers a platform for coin dealers and collectors from across the country. Overall, 76 numismatic dealers are taking part in the expo. Among the unique pieces on display are two lithographs on the city’s past, including the 1794 piece ‘The East View of Bangalore with Cypress Garden’.
Coins from the Mughal, the Hindu Medieval and the Sultanate eras, old tokens, medals and paper money are on display. The expo is open from 10 am to 6 pm and entry is free.