Maharaja Dalip Singh’s dinner plate up for auction

LONDON: Collectors of Maharaja Dalip Singh memorabilia will be thrilled at the prospect of bidding for a dinner plate that once belonged to the last independent ruler of the Punjab, reports appearing in London newspapers say.

The plate being put up for auction by Mullock’s auctioneers in the English county of Shrops hire is valued at between £2,000 and £3000 (Rs1.5 to Rs 2.5 lakh). It was manufactured by ceramics manufacturer Mintons who also supplied china tableware to Queen Victoria.

The plate is nowhere as valuable as other items from Dalip Singh’s estate, such as the Kohinoor diamond, which now lodges in one of the crowns belonging to the British royal family, or the golden throne of Ranjit Singh currently in a London museum, but itis till a reminder of the glory of the Sikh empire that stretched from Afghanistan to Kashmir.
Inked on the back of the plate is a black ink certificate of provenance which reads, ‘From the collection of late Maharaja Dhuleep Singh. ‘Dalip Singh was only 11-year old when he was removed from his throne by the East India Company.

He was ubsequently baptized as a Christian and sent to England where he was induced to ‘gift’ the Kohinoor to the Queen. Since his death other family heirlooms have surfaced from time to time and are immediately snatched up by eager collectors. Such was the case with the 12 bore hammer gun made by J.P Urdey and Sons that was offered for sale by Bonhams auctioneers last April.

The gun commissioned for Dalip Singh’s 15-year-old son, Prince Victor, is thought to have been used for many of the shooting parties that were hosted by the exiled Maharaja at his country estate of Elveden in Norfolk.

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At least as much interest was generated more recently by a gold coin minted during the reign of Dalip Singh’s father, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which was purchased for more than £10,000 by a mystery buyer from India.

Although the provenance of the coin is not known, there was speculation that it came from the estate of the late Dr John Login, a Scottish doctor who was appointed by the East India Company as Dalip Singh’s guardian in the mid 19th century.

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