Friday, 24 April 2015 09:00

Tipu Sultan's weaponry at Bonhams

History made history this month when Tiger of Mysore, King Tipu Sultan’s collection of arms and armour was sold at Bonhams Islamic and Indian art sale fetching a fantastic total of more than 6 million pounds. Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques.

Tipu’s personal motif was the tiger and is said to have famously declared ‘I would rather live one day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep’ earning him the name Tiger of Mysore. He fought bravely against the East India Company till his death in 1799. He was a fanatical and relentless warrior, and vowed not to sit on his elaborate throne until he had vanquished the British.

 

Among his personal collection on sale at Bonhoms was the rare gem-set sword with tiger’s head pommel estimated at 60000-80000 which sold for £ 2,154,500. A three-pounder cannon with field carriage sold for £1,426,500 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000 and a magnificent two shot flintlock sporting gun from Tipu’s personal armoury was sold for £722,500. It had been estimated at £100,000-150,000.

The collection- all 30 of them exhibited and published- featured sabres, gem-set trophy swords, embroidered arrow quivers, exquisite quilted helmets, blunderbusses, fowling pieces, sporting guns, pistols, and a three-pounder bronze cannon – each and every weapon a work of art in its own right.

“Bonhams is absolutely delighted with the outcome of the sale,” says Claire Penhallurick. “We were fielding bids from all around the world. Clearly connoisseurs recognised that these treasures from Tipu’s armoury are astonishing works of art- and they were prepared to do what it took to acquire them.”

The Islamic and Indian sale as a whole achieved £7.4 million according to the Bonhoms official information for the media.

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