A pinch of soil and blood-stained blades of grass from the place where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 sold for 10,000 pounds at an auction in London on Tuesday that also saw many other Gandhi memorabilia going under the hammer including his iconic round-rimmed glasses that fetched more than twice the estimated price.
While the glasses sold for 34,000 pounds, the ‘charkha’ or the spinning wheel realised 26,000 pounds.
The announcement of the sale by auction house Mullock’s earlier this month had evoked a lot of outcry from several quarters demanding its scrapping.
The identity of the buyers was not immediately known. The soil and grass were kept inside a tiny glass-topped box in a small wooden casket, which had a letter of provenance by P P Nambiar dated September 24, 1996 saying that the recipient “… has today received the most sacred of all relics a fraction of the pinch of soil I collected on 30 January 1948 from the spot where the father of our nation M K Gandhi fell to the bullets of his assassin…”
Other Gandhi items that were sold at the “Historical Documents, Autographs & Ephemera” auction included an autograph letter signed in Gujarati (5,000 pounds), another autograph letter signed ‘Bapu’ in English to ‘Dear Poduval’ dated February 10, 1937 (6,600 pounds), a 10 inch, 78 rpm signed Columbia disc containing his spiritual message (2,200 pounds) and a typewritten letter to Sgt Poduwal in Rangoon (3,000 pounds).
Gandhi’s glasses under auction were bought in London around 1890 when he studied Law.
The item is described as “corroded with age”, and comes with the original felt bearing the name of H Cannam Optician 23 St Aldate Street Gloucester.
The ‘charkha’ is described as being in an ‘as used’ condition but still retaining its inner mechanism.