Rare first edition books on nationalism, freedom struggle to be auctioned

Rare first editions of books by Nehru, Gandhi to be auctioned

india-divided-rare-books-gandhi-prinseps India Divided by Rajendra Prasad, an issue of Young India edited by Mahatma Gandhi | Prinseps

India Divided was published in 1946, a year before India's partition. Most of the book was written in Barabanki jail by Rajendra Prasad, who went on to become the first president of independent India. The crucial historical document questioned the two-nation theory and concluded that Hindu-Muslim discord could be settled with the formation of a secular state where there is cultural autonomy for both groups. 

Printed on Indian handmade paper, a rare first edition of India Divided will be up for sale in the third edition of the Nationalism Book Auction hosted by Prinseps. With a price estimate between Rs30,000-50,000, India Divided is among a rare catalogue of books from the pre-independence era which are going under the hammer on January 25.

The 85-lot online auction will be open to bidding at 10am on January 25 and closes at 7pm on January 26.  It brings a rare collection of first editions to the market, most of which have not been offered for sale before. Printed in India, few copies survive from this time period that birthed freedom fighters, ideologies, revolutionaries and political leaders. 

"Most of these editions are not easily available or accessible in libraries. For anyone who is an avid book collector or studying the history of India, the nationalist movement and the freedom struggle, this auction will be of great interest," says  Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil, vice-president and curator at Prinseps, a research-focused auction house based in Mumbai. Apart from Indian modern and contemporary art, Prinseps also works with other rare collectables like antiquarian books and Art Deco furniture. 

Key lots at the Nationalism Book Auction this year include Mahatma Gandhi’s Young India which was printed in 1922 and published by S. Ganesan, Madras; a comprehensive and up-to-date edition of Speeches and Writings of M.K Gandhi by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1922;  India and the World by Jawaharlal Nehru, 1936, which is a collection of Nehru's political writings comprising his presidential addresses, followed by some shorter essays written in prison. There's also Consequences of Pakistan by K.L Gauba, 1946 and The Problem of Minorities by Dhirendranath Sen, published in 1940, apart from VP Menon's The Transfer of Power in India, signed by him. "They are in exemplary condition," adds Gohil. Bidding for all starts at Rs 5,000

One of the highest estimates is reserved for Mahatma Gandhi's To The Princes and Their People, between Rs 1 to 3 lakh. Signed "Bapu" by Gandhi, it is a rare first edition of the World War II period compilation of Gandhiji's utterances and writings published in Karachi. This particular volume is no. 4 in the "Gandhi series," being a part of a collection of separately published books during the War, issued by Anand T. Hingorani who was Gandhi's personal secretary for some time and editor of Gandhi's weekly newspaper Harijan.

In 1941, Hingorani launched the "Gandhi series"; he was authorised to create and publish these writings to allow readers to access Gandhi's work on specific subjects, previously scattered in several publications. 

In the last edition of the Nationalism Book Auction, the highest bid was achieved for Jawaharlal Nehru's Discovery of India which sold for Rs 1.64 lakh, followed by Gandhi's Young India at Rs 1.20 lakh. 

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