Gandhi glasses 2.jpg
These glasses by repute were owned by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and will be offered at East Bristol Auctions on August 21 with an estimate of £10,000-15,000.

You have 2 more free articles remaining

The glasses were consigned to the auction house – East Bristol Auctions in Hanham – by the owner who left them in a white envelope in its letterbox over the weekend.

The vendor had inherited them from an uncle who was is believed to have been given them c.1920-30 by Gandhi while in South Africa.

The uncle had been working for British Petroleum at the time and was stationed in South Africa. The family believe they were presented to the uncle by way of thanks from Gandhi for some good deed.

East Bristol Auctions has estimated the spectacles at £10,000-15,000 ahead of the August 21 sale. 

The early 20th century, c.1920 gold plated circular rimmed spectacles have been catalogued by the auction house as ‘by repute owned and worn by Mahatma Gandhi’.

Gandhi glasses.jpg

Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles formed an important and somewhat iconic part of Gandhi's overall appearance. Image: East Bristol Auctions.

The auction house’s description states: “The spectacles formed an important and somewhat iconic part of Gandhi's overall appearance. It was known that he would often give away his old or unwanted pairs to those in need or those who had helped him. A rare and important pair of spectacles.”

Andy Stowe, auctioneer at East Bristol, said: “We first looked at the story to verify it was possible - and all the pieces of the jigsaw slotted together perfectly. The vendor's uncle was in South Africa at the right time, as was Gandhi. We then looked at the specifics of the glasses, which also matched other known examples in museums etc.

“Then we discovered one pair in a museum which has the bridge section distinctly distorted to fit Gandhi's nose, and ours carries the identical distortion - that can only be something specific to Gandhi. Unfortunately, through 100 years and three generations, the story hasn't been preserved as neatly as we'd all like - but the broadstrokes are all there, and the jigsaw fits together.”

The spectacles will be offered at East Bristol Auction’s Military, History and Classic cars sales

A number of items owned by Gandhi have sold at auction over the years. In 2009 a pair of his spectacles, alongside his leather sandals, a Zenith pocket watch and a brass bowl and plate from which he is thought to have taken his last meal, sold for $1.8m (£1.4m) at Antiquorum in New York.

In June 2019 a maquette for the famous Gandhi statue in London’s Tavistock Square made £52,000.