Gandhiji’s charkha sold for £1,10,000 at London auction

New Delhi, 23/01/2013: Mahathma Gandhi on a Charkha. Courtesy: Gandhi Smriti   | Photo Credit: Gandhi Smriti

A portable teak charkha belonging to Mahatma Gandhi that he used while in Yerwada prison, and in 1935 gifted to the American Free Methodist missionary Reverend Dr. Floyd A. Puffer (1888-1965) was auctioned for £1,10,00 at the Mullocks auction house here on Tuesday. Its guide price was £60,000-£80,000.

The charkha was part of a cache of several lots of Gandhiji-related memorabilia including a draft Will that he signed on September 23, 1926, which was auctioned for £20,000, several postcards, photographs, posters, stamps, books on Gandhi, and even a bust of his.

According to the catalogue, the origins and operation of the Yerwada charkha are described in American monthly Popular Science in December 1031 as “a portable spinning wheel that folds into a bundle about the size of a portable typewriter and has a handle for carrying. When unfolded for use, it is operated by turning a small crank, which runs the two wheels and spindle of the device.”

After he was released from prison in 1933, he presented the charkha to Rev Puffer and his wife who worked as missionaries close to Wardha. He visited them several times from 1934 onwards, and established his own ashram in Wardha in 1936.

The Will is one of several that Gandhiji wrote. Written in Gujarati with translation the “highly important document,” the catalogue states, “supersedes the Will, dated 1921, which was sold in these rooms on May 21 this year, and provides an historic insight into Gandhi’s thinking and his speculations for the future some five years on from his previous will.” There are several corrections that appear on the document in Gandhiji’s hand attested to by witnesses.

The precision in the wording of his final Will in which Gandhi leaves his “tangible and intangible possessions” to the Navjivan Trust is missing in the Will that was auctioned on Tuesday although it is clear that Gandhi’s heir is the trust that runs his ashram. To it he leaves his books and writings, and “the earnings from all my writings, books or their copyrights and from anything that is considered as my personal property” to be used for “the development of the Satyagraha ashram by the trustees during that time accordingly.”


>>The opening sentence of “Gandhiji’s charkha sold for £1,10,000 at London auction” (Nov. 6, 2013) wrongly said the portable teak charkha was auctioned for £1,10,00. The headline gave the correct figure - £1,10,000. In the third paragraph, the year of issue of American monthly - Popular Science - was wrongly given as 1031. It should have been 1931.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 8:22:36 PM |

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