The magazine-fed flintlock rifle c.1785 with silver mounts and panels of gold-inlaid tiger stripe pattern (bubri) formed part of a cache of Indian arms and works of art from the descendants of Major Thomas Hart, a British East India Company officer who served at the fall of Seringapatam on May 4, 1799.
Auctioneer Antony Cribb offered them for sale at the Milton House Hotel near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on March 26. A 22% buyer’s premium was charged.
The gun, and its companion bayonet stored in the butt, was dated AH1200 or 1785 and further marked with the place of manufacture (the Haydarnagar Armoury) and The devoted servant Sayyid Da’ud.
It showed signs of having been damaged in action and may have been collected from the battlefield.
Major Hart’s allocation of the spoils of Seringapatam also included a gold inlaid firangi offered with its original scabbard and silver-mounted shoulder and waist belt sold at £18,500 and a 3in (7.5cm) 22 carat gold pandan or betel nut box with bird and a peacock finials suspending baroque pearls hammered at £17,500.
His personal East India Company 24ct. gold ring, inscribed in both Persian and Kannada Tamas Hart 1100, sold at £2800.
The seven lots totalled £107,000.
Tipu – who famously declared ‘I would rather live one day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep’ – continues to hold huge fascination as the East India Company’s most tenacious enemy. Sales of similar items were conducted by Sotheby’s in 2005 and 2010 and by Bonhams in 2015.