Mahatma Gandhi’s charkha sells for £1.1 lakh in UK auction

Mahatma Gandhi’s over eight-decade old “charkha” (spinning wheel), one of his most prized possessions that he used in Yerwada Jail during the “Quit India Movement”, was today auctioned in the UK for a whopping £1.1 lakh, nearly double the expected price. Gandhi’s last will sold for £20,000 at the sale of historical documents and artefacts by the Mullock’s Auction House in Shropshire.

“Gandhi’s charkha was sold for £1.1 lakh at the auction, while his last will fetched £20,000,” said Michael Morris, a Mullock’s official. The auction house, however, refused to name the buyer.

Made of Indian teak, the charkha with a minimum bid of £60,000, was used by Gandhi while he was in the prison in Pune and was gifted by him to American Free Methodist missionary Revd Floyd A Puffer in 1935.

The American was a pioneer in Indian educational and industrial cooperatives. He invented a bamboo plow that was later adopted by Gandhi.

Puffer and his wife worked as missionaries in India and in 1935 displayed Gandhi’s spinning wheel at a number of talks and events.

Puffer presented the “charkha” to fellow missionary Reverend Dr Frank J Kline in 1965. It has since passed through Kline’s family to the present owner by descent.

One of the earliest known references to the “charkha” is an article in the December 1931 issue of the monthly Popular Science.

Gandhi’s will was written in Gujarati at the Sabarmati Ashram and it superseded the will dated 1921 that was sold at an earlier auction by Mullock’s. The later will provides a historic insight into Gandhi’s thinking and his speculation for the future.

The auction house’s specialist Richard Westwood Brookes said: “The ‘charkha’ is one of Gandhi’s most prized possessions as he devised the workings of it himself. The ‘charkha’ was used by him in Yerwada Jail while fighting for the rights and Independence of India.”