History History & Culture

Books from pre-Independent India, for history buffs

Inside the ‘Letters written in a Mahratta Camp’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

London-based dealer of rare books, Peter Harrington, has unveiled its first India-specific collection through a digital catalogue called ‘The Indian Subcontinent: From the 18th to the 20th Century’. The collection has 40 items including books, original manuscripts and artworks, and offers a glimpse into pre-Independent India. It is available to view on peterharrington.co.uk and can be purchased at £850 upwards.

Some of the illustrated works include The Sikhs and Afghans (1846), Jai Hind – The diary of a rebel daughter of India with the Rani of Jhansi regiment (1945), lithographic plates of the Nilgiris including views of Ooty by Humphrey Jervis, ‘Old Mumbai’ by A H Walker’ — a late 19th-Century watercolour panorama of Bombay harbour, and more.

The book ‘Jai Hind’

The book ‘Jai Hind’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

In an e-mail interview about their first India-centric collection, Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington, says, “In the last six months, we have been lucky to acquire some really special items which, in a way, warranted the curation of a dedicated collection, with several rare books on Sikh and Sikhism, accounts of the Punjab royal courts, military reminisces and finely illustrated accounts of hunting tours and Indian field sports.”

The collection also includes The Adi Granth, or Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs by Ernest Trumpp — the first translation into English of the Sikh holy texts.

A page from ‘Reise in Ostindien’

A page from ‘Reise in Ostindien’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Sourcing rare titles, manuscripts and illustrations has been an ongoing process at the firm which was established in 1969: “Private collections are often offered to us; we follow specialist auctions and attend rare book fairs around the world where we buy and sell books. We handpick our titles and each book is then checked and catalogued by one of our experts,” adds Pom.

Off the catalogue
  • ‘Letters written in a Mahratta Camp’ during 1809 by Thomas Duer Broughton
  • ‘Reise in Ostindien’, illustrated account of a hunting tour through the Far East by Manó Andrássy
  • ‘The Life of Robert Lord Clive, Baron Plassey’ by Charles Caraccioli
  • ‘The History of Cholera in India from 1862 to 1881’ by Henry Walter Bellew

The books currently on sale are original editions, he emphasises, adding that while the firm accepts books only if they are in good condition, they do have an in-house conservation department to carry out “minor, necessary repairs” and place the books in specialised boxes that protect the books from moisture, sunlight and accidental damage.

Pom states that a few titles from the India-specific catalogue have already been sold. The website has 200 more titles on India: “We tend to see collectors interested in this region come to us not just from India, but from the wider diaspora based in the UK and beyond, as well as British collectors who are interested in this period of colonial history. Institutional buyers such as museums are also always an interesting prospect,” he says.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 4:55:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/peter-harringtons-new-catalogue-includes-books-and-artworks-from-indian-subcontinent-between-the-18th-and-20th-centuries/article31961978.ece

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