Rare Books and Prints Underscoring 200 Years of British Raj to Go On Auction

Prints, rare first editions, and out-of-print books from the 17 th – 19th centuries headline StoryLTD’s Antiquarian Books and Prints ​online auction on 29 – 30 August. Estimates range from INR 15,000 – 20,000 to 16 – 18 lakhs for the 81 lots on offer. Replete with battle accounts and travels across India, Afghanistan, Burma and Sri Lanka, the books on auction cover themes including observations of local customs and architectural wonders, as well as lighter ones on cookery. Many feature lavish illustrations, and are presented in attractive leather binding with rich gilting and lettering. This is StoryLTD’s third auction in the category, with two highly successful auctions held in past years. The auction is preceded by viewings at Saffronart, Mumbai.

Scenery, Inhabitants, and Costumes of Afghaunistan​, a book with detailed accounts and illustrations of individual battles, Afghan cities, local people and customs, geographic features, and indigenous soldiers, authored by James Rattray and published in 1848 by Hering & Remington. James Rattray was a lieutenant in the British Bengal Army, who recorded his experiences and produced sketches during the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842). Published after the war, the text and illustrations are autobiographical and recount many of the positive aspects and pitfalls of an ultimately unsuccessful campaign. Featuring 29 coloured plates with a descriptive letterpress, it has a contemporary dark green half morocco binding. Estimate: Rs 16 – 18 lakhs ($25,000-$28,125).

Select Views in India​, authored by William Hodges and published in 1786 by J Edwards. Hodges was the first Englishman to document India. This is an excellent copy of his pioneering work on India’s architecture and landscape. It features 48 aquatint plates, and is beautifully presented in period calf leather and embellished with a Greek key scroll border. Hodges also served as an inspiration to Thomas Daniell, the illustrious English landscape painter who became known for his aquatints. Estimate: Rs 16 – 18 lakhs ($25,000-$28,125).

Portraits of Princes and People of India​, authored by Emily Eden and published in 1843 by Dickinson & Son. With 24 coloured lithographic plates depicting the lives of Indian rulers and their families, it is presented in an original contemporary half moroccan and cloth cover. Estimate: Rs 11 – 14 lakhs ($17,190-$21,875).

Scenery and Reminiscences of Ceylon,​ ​authored by John Deschamps, Esq., and published in 1844 by by Ackermann & Co. With coloured lithographic plates, this is a significant and ambitious survey of mid-19th century Sri Lanka, where Deschamps spent nine years as an officer in the Royal Artillery. It is presented in a contemporary green cloth binding. Estimate: Rs 4.5 – 5.5 lakhs ($7,035-$8,595).

Set of Two Highly Decorated Books: “Sakoontala, or The Lost Ring​”​, and “Folk Tales of Bengal”. ​Sakoontala, Kalidasa’s famous Sanskrit play, was translated into English by Monier Williams and published in 1855 by Stephen Austin. The book is bound in full calf, with decorated endpapers and gilt edges. Folk Tales of Bengal by Lal Behari Dey was published in 1912 by Macmillan & Co., Limited. Each tale is beautifully illustrated in colour by Warwick Goble. Estimate: Rs 50,000 – 60,000 ($785-$940).

Set of Two Early Indian Cookery Books: ​Indian Domestic Economy and Receipt with Hindustanee Romanized Names by R Riddell, published in 1871 by Thacker Spink & Co., comprises directions for both Western and Indian cookery, while also instructing the reader on more practical matters connected with household affairs of the time. Culinary Jottings for Madras by Colonel Arthur Robert Kenney-Herbert “Wyven”, was published in 1883 by Higginbothams & Co. Colonel Wyvern’s book offers an intriguing look into Anglo-Indian cuisine, instructing readers on how to produce English and French food using locally available and imported ingredients, as well as managing and running a kitchen. Estimate: Rs 30,000–50,000 ($470-$785).

Women Travellers in India (Set of Three Books): This is a set of three fascinating accounts by women travellers who accompanied their husbands to India. The Diary of a Civilian’s Wife in India, 1877-1882, by Mrs. Robert Moss King, published in 1884 by Richard Bentley & Sons, is a two-volume set with drawings made by her. In Our Visit to Hindostan, Kashmir & Ladakh, published in 1879 by W H Allen & Co., Mrs J C Murray Ayensley describes her impressions of the cities she travelled to, with brief mention of tea cultivation in Kulu, an opium factory in Ghazipore, Sikh festivals, camp life in Kashmir, and sheep as beasts of burden. The Indian Alps and how We Crossed Them was authored by Nina Elizabeth Mazuchelli, the first Englishwoman to have travelled far into the eastern Himalayas. Published in 1875 by Dodd, Mead & Co., it is an early mountaineering classic of Himalayan travel, and one of the few early exploration books that was not primarily a hunting expedition. Estimate: Rs 60,000 – 80,000 ($940-$1,250).

A Discoverie of the Sect of the Banians, ​authored by Henry Lord and published in 1630 by F. Constable. The oldest book in this auction, it is one of the earliest accounts of Hinduism and Zoroastrianism by Europeans. The book is bound in a modern brown calf cover with marbled boards and a red morocco label. Estimate: Rs 2.5 – 3 lakhs ($3,910-$4,690).

Views in Burman Empire ​is a collection of ten plates by Captain James Kershaw and William Daniell that illustrates Prome, Rangoon, Melloon and Pagham-Mew. Published in 1831 by Smith, Elder & Co., each print is individually mounted and presented in a yellow cloth Solander box. Estimate: Rs 11 – 14 lakhs ($17,190-$21,875).

Views in the Himalayan Mountains, ​a set of four aquatints, was touted by Godrej & Rohatgi as “the finest aquatints of mountain scenery ever produced”, and was published in 1820 by Messrs. Rodwell and Martin. Estimate: Rs 5 – 5.5 lakhs ($7,815-$8,595).

The Glorious Conquest of Seringapatam ​is a striking triptych depicting Tipu Sultan’s magnificent but failed attempt at defending the fortress of Seringapatam from British troops. Each section of the triptych is a hand-tinted mezzotint by J. Vendramini (after Robert Ker Porter), made in 1802-03. Estimate: 7.5 – 8.5 lakhs ($11,720-$13,285).

About StoryLTD and Saffronart

Launched in 2013, StoryLTD is an e-commerce and auction service offered by Saffronart, India’s leading auction house. StoryLTD provides a unified and convenient shopping experience encompassing diverse categories. Our fixed price collections include prints, paintings, photography, design and jewellery, offered at accessible price points. We have held several successful auctions of modern and contemporary Indian art, antiquarian books and prints, ephemera on Indian art, folk and tribal art, and sports and film memorabilia.

Founded in 2000 by Minal and Dinesh Vazirani, Saffronart is a leading international auction house, and India’s most reputed, with over a hundred auctions to its credit. It is headquartered in Mumbai, with offices in New Delhi, London and New York. At the forefront of selling Indian art, we hold online and live auctions, exhibitions, and prime property sales throughout the year. Our focus is to bring transparency to the auction process, and provide easy access to
bidders around the world.

Saffronart’s services go beyond auctions to include private sales, art storage, appraisals and valuations for our clients, and supporting the efforts of the Indian art world by holding fundraiser auctions. We have set several global benchmarks for online auctions, and were the subject of a case study at Harvard Business School in 2005.

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