Rare Sikh documents up for sale in Britain

One of the earliest accounts of Sikh warrior king Maharaja Ranjit Singh forms the centrepiece of an auction of rare historical documents in Britain next month.

The account by Marquis of Wellesley, which dates back to 1805, is expected to fetch between 600 and 800 pounds when it goes under the hammer as part of a sale organised by Mullock's specialist auction house at Ludlow Racecourse in the West Midlands region on November 5.

"This is one of earliest accounts of Ranjit Singh, he would have been at the tender age of 25, a young ambitious man who was set to rule a vast empire. He was clearly an obstacle to the British expanding their territory in India," said historical documents specialist Richard Westwood-Brookes.

Among some of the other rare collections coming up for sale include a report of the meeting between Ranjit Singh and Lord William Bentick, Governor General of India, published in 1832.

An early edition of the "History of the Sikhs" by Joseph Davy Cunningham, published in 1853 and considered the first extensive work on the Sikhs by a European, has a guide price of 1,000 to 1,500 pounds.

"This sale is very unique as it sheds light on the Sikh empire and religion from the eyes of the British and European explorers of the 19th century," Westwood-Brookes explained.
Other lots include a first-hand account of the Sikhs by John Malcolm from 1813, a Sikh Empire period Kashmir painted shelf with portraits of Ranjit Singh and Gulab Singh and a rare 19th century British cast model of the famous Sikh Bhangi Misl Cannon.

A fine engraving of the Nihungs (1844) by British artist Emily Eden, a very early drawing of Ranjit Singh, a lavishly illustrated book on the Sikh court of Lahore by Russian traveller Soltykoff and the earliest European view of the Golden Temple dating back to 1836 are all expected to be among some of the sought after items at the upcoming Historical Documents and Ephemera auction.

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