When Tipu Sultan lost the Third Anglo-Mysore War to the allied forces in 1792, the old Mysore region did not have a newspaper to report it. But, thousands of kilometres away, readers of the Philadelphia-based The Mail; or, Claypoole's Daily Advertiser read the details of the war and the treaty that was signed subsequently.
A copy of the four-page newspaper, having survived for nearly 220 years in different hands, reached Bangalore-based document collector Sunil Baboo. He bought it from a U.S. dealer last year.
The September 8, 1792 edition of The Mail… carries details of the treaty signed between Tipu and allied forces commander Lord Cornwallis. The war came ended on February 6, 1792, and the treaty was signed on February 22, 1792. It was notified in the July 5 issue of London Gazette.
The Mail… reproduced the contents of the treaty notified in the London Gazette. Following the treaty, Tipu had to cede half of his dominion and pay 3.3 crore sicca rupees in pagodas, or gold mohurs, or its worth in gold or silver bullion. He was forced to hand over two of his sons as hostage till he made the payment.
Mr. Baboo told The Hindu: “A dealer in the U.S., who knew of my interest in historical documents, informed me of the newspaper copy some time in 2010. The price… was very high as the dealer knew the value… It took me a couple of months to seal the deal. I pestered him to reduce the price.”
The copy of The Mail…, which is in good condition, is among the many old documents that are with Mr. Baboo, who has been collecting documents for over a decade now.
Also in his possession is a Gosling Bank cheque issued by the Governor-General of East India Company, Warren Hastings, on May 17, 1794, in favour of one Joshua Patrick for £30. He claimed that this was “the second oldest cheque of the world's banking history. The oldest known cheque issued in 1723 is on display in a British museum.”
‘A princely sum'
According to him, the cheque is important for three reasons: it is the second oldest banking cheque; it is signed by Hastings; and £30 was a princely sum in that period.
Most of the documents in the possession of Mr. Baboo, a merchandise consultant, have been sourced from Europe and the U.S. “It is very difficult to get India-related documents in India. The documents relating to 13 Governors-General of colonial India that are with me have been sourced from outside India,” he says.
His collection includes old maps of India, some dating to the 15 and 16 centuries, prepared by Dutch, English and French cartographers.