Now, Tipu Sultan's gold finial fetches 434,400 in UK sale

The hammer price of the finial, which had a pre-sale estimate of 200,000-300,000 pounds, was inclusive of buyer's premium, auction house Bonham's said.A previously unrecorded, contemporary eyewitness account of the siege of Seringapatam and the death of Tipu Sultan, written by Captain Benjamin Sydenham sold for 86,400 pounds at the Indian and Islamic Art auction.

The identity of the buyers was however not known immediately.The finial is the second to pass through Bonhams Bond Street saleroom here in 18 months. The first finial sold for 389,600 pounds in April last year.

This finial is one of the most important Tipu items ever to appear at auction. It was in the possession of the same Scottish family for the past years 200 years coming down to the present owner by direct descent. The first finial sold at Bonhams had lain in an English castle, for at least 100 years and then in a bank vault, unknown to Tipu enthusiasts and scholars. It was discovered by Bonhams Islamic Department on a routine valuation.
"It is an extraordinary privilege to sell a second such wonderful finial from Tipu Sultan's throne. To sell one is amazing, but to have two in less than two years is almost unbelievable," said Claire Penhallurick of Bonhams Indian and Islamic Department.
The eyewitness account is addressed to Earl Macartney and is immaculately written in a copper plate script in 1799. It recounts in some 50 pages the story of the end of the Tiger of Mysore.

Tipu Sultan was the East India company's most tenacious enemy. A fanatical and relentless warrior, he vowed not to mount his elaborate throne until he had vanquished the British.

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