Rare historical books deck up Rashtrapathi bhavan library
New Delhi: A peep into history is at the centre of Rashtrapati Bhavan's initiative to refurbish its library with rare books dating back to 1800 on 'Tippoo' Sultan and another signed by Lord George Curzon in 1904 to find a place on its racks.
This is part of efforts by Pranab Mukherjee, who after taking over as President in July this year, has been devoting time reviving places of historical importance within the sprawling 340-room Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
The look of the library is being recreated to match the ambience in 1950 when it started functioning with tables in the room also being aligned the way it used to be.
The books, which can be a real treat to any researcher, date between 1800 and 1947. They include a rare book of 1800 written by Alexander Beaston on "A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultan".
The book is a narrative of the operations of the British Army under the command of Lieutenant-General George Harris, and of the siege of Srirangapatnam--near Mysore--and the defacto capital of 'Tippoo' Sultan.
Another rare book -- "The British gallery of engravings: from pictures of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools", written by William Edward Forster, Chaplain to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, will also be featured if the National Archives will be able to restore it.
The book, which was published in 1807 by William Savage, Bedford Bury, was presented to the then Viceroy Lord Curzon in 1905 who has signed it. It has been sent to National Archives for preserving it and may soon find its place in the racks of Rashtrapati Bhavan library.
"The book was presented to me by Raja of Hill of Tripura," wrote Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, on the book.
"Sooner, digitisation of all the books will be completed after installation of new software and researchers and scholars, after getting a special permission, can make use of this treasure," President's Press Secretary Venu Rajamony said.
He said the library was open to the public as part of the tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The library also showcases 100 books of Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire launched in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells.
The bi-yearly book, which comprises compilation of the weekly magazine, was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration.
A 12-volume Oxford dictionary of 1888, compiled by James A H Murray, is also part of the collection of 2,000 old books of the library besides "Transfer of Power 1942-47" brought out by Great Britain: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.