Event History & Culture

Earliest prints of ‘Young India’ and ‘The Discovery of India’ among the historic titles on auction

‘Independent India and a new world order’ by Y G Krishnamurti   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A rare copy of Mahatma Gandhi’s Young India printed in 1922, an author-signed copy of Sarojini Naidu’s The Broken Wing, Jawaharlal Nehru’s Glimpses of World History signed by Indira Gandhi and The Constitution of India (1950) by Rajkamal Publications are among the books currently open to an online auction (prinseps.com/auctions/). The ‘Nationalism Book Auction 2021’, organised by Prinseps, will close bidding by July 15, 7 pm.

Also on auction
  • One Hundred Poems of Kabir (1915)
  • Letters From a Father to His Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru (1929)
  • Rolland and Tagore by Alex Aronson and Krishna Kripalani (1945)
  • The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru (1946)
  • Speeches of President Rajendra Prasad (1955)
  • India Wins Freedom: An Autobiographical Narrative by Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad (1959)

The auction house, established in 2017, has hosted three book auctions in the past. This edition features books printed between the 1920s and the 1960s, about India’s freedom struggle.

Among the earliest printed volumes are Gandhiji’s collated writings documenting his thoughts on the non-violent movement during the British rule (Lot 1: Young India by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1922), and documentation of his speeches (Lot 5: Speeches and Writings — four series by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1933).

The catalogue curated by Indrajit Chatterjee, one of the directors of Prinseps, comprises 63 lots that present stories and narratives of political leaders, authors and philosophers.

The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru

The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

According to Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil, the vice president and curator at the auction house, “The 1920s to the 1960s were a difficult period to source books, especially those published in India. Very few have survived due to harsh weather conditions.”

Prinseps sourced these books from multiple collectors since the beginning of 2020. The books available on auction are from the earliest print editions: “Many of these books are undocumented and have never been offered by antiquarian book dealers. Very few copies have survived, making pricing exceptionally challenging in the absence of comparables. The majority of these are first or limited editions, signed and completely irreplaceable,” says Gohil.

Gohil picks The Constitution of India by Rajkamal Publications, 1950, among the rare titles: “There is no record or copy to the best of our knowledge; the auction also includes two rare books by V D Savarkar, one of which is The Indian War of Independence 1857, first published in 1909 and immediately banned. Following India’s Independence, the book was reprinted and went on to be one of Savarkar’s most influential works.”

The Constitution of India

The Constitution of India   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

He also cites Gandhi’s Young India as a rare copy printed in 1922 and published from Chennai by Tagore & Co.

The books, says Gohil, are in good condition: “Many of these historically important publishing houses and individuals are no more. Fortunately, despite the decades that these books have witnessed, they are in great condition.”

With the growing interest in the Indian Constitution and the country’s historic narrative, he hopes the tribe of collectors will continue to grow.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:56:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/earliest-prints-of-young-india-and-the-discovery-of-india-among-the-historic-titles-on-auction/article35192612.ece

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