LONDON: A gem-encrusted gold finial from the octagonal golden throne of Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore, has been auctioned for 3,89,600 pounds, auctioneers Bonhams has said. A spokeswoman for Bonhams said the eighteenth century item was bought by an unidentified private collector on Thursday. There were only two bidders for what was billed as one of the most important Tipu items ever to appear for sale.
The finial lay in an English castle for at least 100 years and then in a bank vault, unknown to Tipu enthusiasts and scholars. It was discovered by Bonhams’ Islamic department on a routine valuation. The gem-set object is one of three surviving tiger head finials that adorned Tipu’s elaborate throne. It lay at the Featherstone Castle, Northumberland, where it was listed in an 1843 inventory of the late Baron Wallace of Knarsdale (1768-1844), who oversaw the East India Company, and afterwards was hidden away in a bank. Although some of the most important items were reserved for the British Royal Family, the famous golden throne was broken up so that the elements could be shared, much to the disapproval of the Governor-General, Lord Wellesley.
The throne was broken up so quickly following the fall of Seringapatam that little is known about the fate of the remaining throne relics. However, a large gold tiger head from the front of the throne platform now resides at Windsor Castle along with a jewelled bird which was presented to Queen Charlotte the wife of George III. Another surviving finial can be found at Powis Castle, acquired by the second Lady Clive in India.