London: A private family collection of
items relating to the 1857 Indian Mutiny will go under the
hammer in the UK`s Suffolk county next week.
The auction at Bonhams will be held during their
Summer Athenaeum sale at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk county on
The Indian Mutiny of 1857 stands out amongst the many
major historical events of the 19th century and lasted
thirteen months as Indians rebelled against the British
The sheer brutality of the actions, during and after
the mutiny, and the shockwaves it sent through the then mighty
British Empire were immense.
This interesting collection of items has come by
descent from two men who witnessed these tragic days
unfolding, Lt (later Lt. General) Octavius Ludlow Smith of the
48th Bengal Regiment of Native Infantry and his father-in-law
Lt Colonel (later Major General) Sir Vincent Eyre.
Prior to these events, Eyre had been involved in
Afghanistan, where in 1842 he was captured, along with his
family, by Afghan rebels.
They spent nearly 9 months in captivity, during which
he kept a detailed diary and made portraits of officers and
ladies he encountered, before being rescued in 1843.
Included in the collection offered for auction is a
copy of the work he later published about his experiences.
Smith too kept a journal, which gives an equally
fascinating insight into the period `from the outbreak` of the
mutiny at Lucknow on May 30, 1857 to the recapture of Lucknow
His thoughtful and insightful comments give an
in-depth view of these terrible and bloody events.
The original diary is now housed in the British
Library, but this collection includes his own inscribed copies
of some of his contemporaries first hand published accounts of
the mutiny, all first editions dating from 1858.
Also included for sale are a rupee given by Raja
Duleep Singh as payment to his troops, a pouch bearing arms of
Scinde Horse, photographs of Eyre and his wife and a
collection of watercolours by Eyre made in the 1870s while he
was travelling through France, Switzerland and Italy.
The items are grouped into six lots and together are
expected to fetch 2,900 pounds to 3,800 pounds.
Steve Stockton of Bonhams Bury St Edmunds office,
said: "Bonhams are honoured to be selling this fascinating
collection, which offers a deeply personal insight into a
violent and cruel period of history."
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world`s oldest
and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques.