Mahatma Gandhi letter archive hammers for $112,500 at Heritage

An archive of letters from Mahatma Gandhi proved the headline lot of Heritage Auctions' April 3 Historic Manuscripts Signature Auction in New York.

The lot achieved an impressive $112,500.

Gandhi letter archive
The archive consists of letters written during Gandhi's imprisonment in Yerwada County Jail

It consists of 24 letters in Gujarati - the majority handwritten by Gandhi himself in 1928-1933 - which date to the time he spent incarcerated in Yerwada Central Jail.

We have this superb bowl and set of cutlery used by Gandhi during his incarceration at Aga Khan Palace in Pune between 1942 and 1944 - an incredibly important artefact.

While imprisoned Gandhi began a fast in protest against the treatment of the Dalits, the lowest caste in Indian society.

The Harijan Weekly, a newspaper for Dalits, was published from his cell and distributed across India.

In one of the letters he discusses spinning yarn to produce kahdi, a variety of home-spun cloth that became a potent symbol of defiance under the Raj.

He encouraged other Indians to produce kahdi in part to break dependence on British made clothes, which were sold to Indians at a hefty mark up. The charka, a type of spinning wheel, is featured on the Indian flag, which can only be made from kahdi.

In November last year, the spinning wheel he used was sold for $175,500 at Mullock's in the UK.

As in China, a rise in affluence in India has led to a strong market for collectors and investors eager to buy back cultural artefacts from overseas.

In July 2012 another archive of letters by Gandhi was bought by the Indian government for $1m in a private sale.

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