Unique Sale Of 19th Century Afghan Manuscripts And Books

Enthusiast spent fifty years collecting items about life in the Punjab and North West frontier


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A Scottish man who spent fifty years collecting 19th century Afghan and Indian books, photographs and manuscripts has seen them auctioned in Chiswick.

The collection, which was described as "unparalleled" offered a unique insight into the 19th century life of Sikhs and Muslims in the Punjab, Sind and North West frontier, and included several volumes rarely found on the open market.

The range included memoirs and autobiographies of members of the British Army serving in the Punjab, books by civil servants, colonial administrators, correspondance and letters, manuscripts, photographs and paintings, books for travellers, books on mutinies and rebellions, tales of social life and adventure and much more.

The sale was held at Chiswick Auctions with bids coming online from all over the world. There were more than 300 lots on sale with prices ranging from about £40 to thousands of pounds. The story even received coverage in the Afghanistan Times, which is based in Kabul .

The seller, who is from Glasgow, has spent the best part of fifty years collecting the items which include a sought after item entitled ‘Cabul Prisoners from Drawings by Vincent Eyre, 1843’ (lot 89), a collection of Lithographs of Europeans captured during the Afghan Campaigns. He. said he was delighted with the results of the sale

Items of interest included Watson & Kaye’s ‘People of India’ (lot 120), which features photographic subjects from Lahore, Kohat, Hazara, Kabul, and Multan, from present Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The collection of books included Cunningham’s History of The Sikhs, (lot 102) Von Orlich’s Travels in India (lot 241), and many important books on Maharajah Ranjit Singh and his times, including travels of Victor Jacquemont and Alexander Burnes.


October 21, 2014

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