A pair of spectacles belonging to Mahatma Gandhi sold for £260,000 ($340,278) at auction yesterday – twenty six times the guide price.
The gold-coloured glasses were expected to fetch £10,000 – but were sold to a collector in America.
The glasses were given to the current owner’s uncle by the famous leader during a trip to South Africa in the 1920s.
The rare item was then passed down through generations before ending up in the letterbox of an auction house in Bristol.
A sale price was set between £10,000 and £15,000 for the spectacles.
Gandhi – named as ‘Man of the Year’ by the magazine Time in 1930 – was a lawyer, political activist and ambassador for peace.
He led the campaign for Indian independence from the rule of Britain in the 20th century by using non-violent resistance.
He developed a distinctive look in later life which many may recognise him by – which included the iconic glasses.
Andrew Stowe, from East Bristol Auctions, said: ‘It’s a phenomenal result.
‘These glasses have been lying in a drawer for the best part of fifty years.
‘The vendor literally told me to throw them away if they were ‘no good’. Now he gets a life-changing sum of money.’
‘It’s the ‘good news’ story that we all want – as an elderly gentleman, our vendor has probably had a rough time in recent months and to be able to change his life is just incredible.
‘The price is outstanding, but its not about the money.
‘It’s completely spellbinding, and a wonderful thing to be a part of.
‘It’s been a complete honour to handle these spectacles and find them a new home.
‘These glasses represent not only an auction record for us, but a find of international historical importance.
‘Gandhi’s glasses have surpassed all expectations, and previous house records. It’s been a great day.’
Andrew added that Gandhi was known to give away his personal possessions to those who helped him.
This pair of glasses are presumed to have been given to the seller’s uncle during a visit to South Africa in the 1920s.
Andrew said: ‘The uncle in question worked for British Petroleum at the time, and the family legend was that he had helped Gandhi in some way during his visit and in return for the favour, he was gifted these glasses.
‘It’s just the most incredible story. The owner had no idea of their value, and would’ve been quite happy to receive fifty pounds for them I’m sure.
‘When I told him of the valuation, the line went quiet for a moment – he was rather surprised.
‘It’s one of those moments we all dream of – discovering something we’ve owned for years is worth thousands of pounds.
‘It’s always a complete joy to make these discoveries.’