Mahatma Gandhi's spinning wheel achieves $175,500 in Mullock's auction

A spinning wheel, or charka, used by India's Mahatma Gandhi while incarcerated at Pune, has sold this afternoon (November 5) in the UK.

It formed part of Mullock's Historical Documents, Posters, Artwork and Items from India & the Punjab sale.

Gandhi spinning wheel auction
The production of khadi, handspun cloth, is symbolic of Gandhi's vision of an imdependent and self-reliant India

The spinning wheel, described as "one of the most splendid personal possessions of the great Mahatma Gandhi", sold for £110,000 ($175,379) against a £60,000-80,000 estimate - a 37.5% increase.

Made from Indian teak, the wheel was used by Gandhi during his incarceration at Yerwada Central Jail in 1932. The leader employed the wheel daily, practising spinning as a form of meditation.

It was then given by Gandhi to American Free Methodist missionary Reverend Dr Floyd A Puffer (1880-1965), and was presented by him to Reverend Dr Frank J Kline in 1965. It has since passed through Kline's family to the present owner by descent.

Puffer and his wife had worked as missionaries in India, and in 1935 displayed Gandhi's spinning wheel at a number of talks and events. Kline was a fellow missionary, and later formed the Union Biblical Seminary in Pune.

The origin of the charka is recorded in a December 1931 issue of Popular Science, which states:

"Mahatma Gandhi... has devised a portable spinning wheel that folds into a bundle about the size of a portable typewriter and has a handle for carrying. When unfolded for use it is operated by turning a small crank which runs the two wheels and spindle of the device. Gandhi worked out the details of this machine it is reported while he was confined to the Yerwada jail in India."

Also starring in the sale was a copy of Gandhi's will, dated 1926, which sold for £20,000 ($31,887). It originates from the same collection as the will that sold for £55,000 ($83,630) at Mullock's in May.

The auction house holds the auction record for a Gandhi-signed letter, after an example written during his detention by the British government sold for £115,000 ($178,431) in February.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is offering Gandhi's personal food bowl with fork and spoons - an incredibly important item that Gandhi used during his imprisonment at Aga Khan Palace in 1942. It has superb provenance.

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