The Story of... Gandhi's mysterious missing glasses


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, arguably the foremost philosopher of the 20th century, was the key figure involved in bringing about Indian independence. Still hailed as a hero in his homeland today, his influence on Asian life and politics will be felt for many years to come.

It is for this reason that any items connected to Gandhi, of which he owned very few anyway, will always command high prices at auction.

In 2009, his famous round glasses were put for sale, along with his watch, food bowl and sandals. They were valued at a ridiculously low $10,000. They went on to sell for $1.8m

Now, the one-of-a-kind specs have gone missing from a museum in western India, leading to fears they may not be recovered. It is not an overstatement to say that this is a tragic loss, because as the glasses were his most famous possession, and one of his only ones, they have come to symbolise him.

It has even been suggested that staff working at the Sevagram Ashram, a significant religious retreat near Wardha, were told stay quiet about the incident after realising it had happened last November.


Any item linked to Gandhi, like this stamp, is worth thousands

The area is significant to India's history because Gandhi went there in the mid-1930s to set up the Ashram. Furthermore, in 1942 the Quit India independence resolution was passed by his National Congress party, as the country tried to break free from British control.

His glasses were among several other belongings kept in a cabinet, including a brush, spinning wheel and pen-stand. Despite the specs being the most famous of his items, other pieces in the past have also sold for large amounts.

Last month, May 2011, this 1948 10 Rupee Mahatma Gandhi stamp was sold by Geneva auction house David Feldman for an amazing price of $205,000.

It is believed that was the World Record price for the sale of a modern stamp from any country. They were even more valuable because they were the first commemorative stamps of independent India.

It just goes to show that any item can be considered a worthy investment when it is attached to a name as famous as Gandhi. Of course, whether the glasses are found or not, his legacy as a symbol of freedom and independence will live on.  


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