A small, rusty metal bowl (called katori in Hindi), two wooden spoons, and a wooden fork (once used by Mahatma Gandhi) are the auctioneer’s fees, GST, insurance, cargo and antique items import at an auction in Bristol, UK on January 10th. If you add the Indian tariffs for the GBP 55,000 they all add up, resulting in 120 million rupees.
But that’s the auctioneer’s low estimate, the higher estimate is GBP 80,000 and the land cost in India is almost Rs 2 crores. However, auction bids are very unpredictable and can sometimes be 2-3 times higher than the estimates given by the auctioneer. This is especially true in the era of 24-hour global online auctions, Covid or no Covid.
Gandhi Heirlooms (letters, photographs, portraits, books, sandals, glasses, etc.) attract collectors of all kinds, including institutions and individuals from all over the world. However, items used personally by Gandhi are rarely used in auctions. Current bowl and cutlery sets have a great source. It comes from the collection of the once-shipping mogul Sumati Morarjee, a famous devotee of Mahatma Gandhi.
According to East Bristol Auctioneer’s catalog, “This set was used by Gandhi during his imprisonment in Pune’s Aga Khan Palace (1942-1944) and Mumbai’s Palm Bun House. Bowl of simple metal construction, 208/42 stamped on the base, and the fan shape leads to a flat base (about 21 cm in diameter). A spoon consisting of a wooden fork and two carved wooden spoons is also a simple form in the traditional way (about 16 cm long).”
“Everything was used daily by Gandhi and originally came from the collection of Sumati Morarjee, Gandhi’s old friend and advocate. He took care of him several times. This entry is also recorded in the book Sumati Morarjee Felicitation (1970) and in Vithalbhai Jhaveri’s epic biography of the film’Gandhi’. A full letter of sources and history is provided with the lot. It is a very important historical relic that is not only related to Gandhi but also to the history of India.