Treasure trove of rare collectibles adorn his house

Treasure trove of rare collectibles adorn his house

History is past, but not for everyone. There are a few who keep it alive by preserving the crucial links between the past and the present and Sunil Baboo is one of them.

What started as a childhood hobby went on to become a serious passion for now 53-year-old Baboo, a garment manufacturer. From stamps to currency notes dating back to King George V, VI, to ancient books, maps, newspapers, letters written by viceroys to their wives in the pre-Independence era, he presents a variety of collections. And not any ordinary books, maps or letters here. Each of his collectibles is rare in its own way. The oldest document is a land deed written in French on a paper made of goat skin dated January 28, 1513. The paper is still in its original shape and can be read easily. He has the original signatures of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in his collection. 

Letters written by 13 governor generals of India, including by Lord Dalhousie to his wife dated July 27, 1843 to one written by Lord Ellenborough and also signed by Lord Keynes dating back to 1834 and letters written by Lord Wellington to his wife, Lord Napier’s letter to his wife, as also full-fledged collection of letters, photographs, documents on Lady and Lord Mountbatten, which includes a booklet on the death of Lord Mountbatten and his funeral, are part of his collection.

For those with keen interest in historical events pertaining to this region, he has in his possession a four-paged Philadelphia-based newspaper titled The Mail; or Claypoole’s Daily Advertiser dating back to September 8, 1792, costing four pence, carrying details of the treaty signed between Tipu Sultan and allied forces commander Lord Cornwallis. The newspaper report says, “Following the treaty, Tipoo (sic) had to cede half of his dominion and pay 3.3 crore sicca rupees in pagodas, or gold mohurs, or its worth in gold or silver bullion. He was forced to hand over two of his sons as hostage till he made the payment.”

Baboo’s collection includes old maps of India, the oldest is from a 16th Century map made of Asia by Dutch cartographers, besides a map of Pondicherry dating back to 1700, a map belonging to Tipu Sultan made in Germany dating back to 1792.  “I started collecting in 1982 and till date I am collecting and will continue to do so till I die. Most of my collection I built over years spending a good amount of money participating in various international auctions. I feel, we Indians should invest money in bringing back what is rightfully ours. There is so much wealth that belongs to India that has gone out to other countries. This is the reason why everything Indian attracts me for my collection,” says Baboo.

The oldest book he has dates back to 1651 which is written in Latin on Julius Caesar. One close to his heart dates back to 1725 written by Reynolds titled, “A view of Death or Departure of Soul from the world.” The book, which is poetic, explains scientific facts about the functioning of human body as explained by scientists of that era, including Isaac Newton, Boyle, Cheyne and Dr Keil. Another book from his collection of 16 rare books dates back to 1860. Titled “History of the Indian Mutiny” by Charles Ball and running into 1,600 pages, it has been dedicated to the then President of USA James Buchanan. The book reads, “Great military events which have tended to consolidate British Empire in Hindostan.”

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