Gandhi papers set to fetch $1 million in auction

Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:22am EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A huge archive of letters, papers and photographs that shed new light on Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and his time in South Africa will be auctioned in London next month and is expected to fetch 500,000-700,000 pounds ($800,000-$1.1 million).

The documents, numbering several thousand and arranged in 18 files, belonged to Hermann Kallenbach, who became arguably Gandhi's closest friend after they met in Johannesburg in 1904.

Although relatively few are in Gandhi's own hand, the wealth of material from family, friends, associates and Kallenbach himself make the collection a key biographical source for one of the 20th century's most revered figures.

"The vast majority of this is unknown and unpublished, and has not been used by scholars in the last generation or two," said Gabriel Heaton, a books and manuscripts specialist at Sotheby's auctioneers which is selling the archive.

"It is very much material that will be adding to our sum knowledge of Gandhi and his life," he told Reuters.

The documents will go under the hammer as a single lot on July 10 at the English Literature and History sale.

Sotheby's also handled the sale in 1986 of the main series of Gandhi's letters to Kallenbach, when they raised 140,000 pounds. Together, the two batches represent the vast majority of the Kallenbach family's Gandhi collection.

"He is one of the towering figures of the 20th century," said Heaton, when asked to explain Gandhi's appeal to collectors and historians.   Continued...

 
Mahatma Gandhi (C) is seen in South Africa in this undated handout photograph from the Hermann Kallenbach Archive released in London June 13, 2012. A huge archive of letters, papers and photographs that shed new light on Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and his time in South Africa will be auctioned in London next month and is expected to fetch 500,000-700,000 pounds ($800,000-$1.1 million). The documents, numbering several thousand and arranged in 18 files, belonged to Hermann Kallenbach, who became arguably Gandhi's closest friend after they met in Johannesburg in 1904. REUTERS/Sothebys/Handout