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A detailed record of the spoils seized by the East India Company following the final defeat of Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam in 1799
By Benjamin Sydenham (1777-1828)
Estimated price: £15,000-20,000

This fascinating manuscript is a detailed account of the spoils seized by the East India Company following the defeat of Tipu Sultan at the Battle of Seringapatam in 1799. This memoranda was written by Benjamin Sydenham (1777-1828), who was aide-de-camp to the Governor General, Marquess Wellesley.

Sydenham’s manuscript gives one of the earliest known reports of the treasures found at the Court of Mysore. There are detailed descriptions of “Tippoo Sultaun’s wardrobe”, the wonderful mechanical “Tippoo’s Tiger”, now in the V&A Museum, and the golden tiger head removed from Tipu’s throne and later presented to George III.

The manuscript reveals eyewitness accounts of hunting with cheetahs and includes representations of the Tipu throne before it was broken up on the orders of the Prize Committee. Within the manuscript is a watercolour sketch by Thomas Marriot that is the only known record of the throne viewed from above and displays two additional tiger head finials previously unrecorded.

Sydenham’s memoranda were sent with the booty by ship back to London and a duplicate copy, now in the British Library, was sent overland. This remarkable manuscript left the archive of the East India Company in 1814 and was then lost from view for nearly 200 years, only to be discovered by the consignor some 20 years ago in a second-hand shop in the UK.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 8, 2012.

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