LONDON – A silver gilt dinner (gold plated silver) service commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala is being offered for sale by Christie’s auctioneers in London with an estimated price of £1million to £1.5 million.
Bhupinder Singh commissioned the dinner service — comprising 200 dinner plates, smaller plates and dishes — to commemorate the February 1922 Patiala visit of Edward, the Prince of Wales.
Edward, notorious for his later affair with American divorcee Wallis Simpson, arrived in Patiala on the morning of February 22, 1922 for a weekend of hunting, pig sticking and polo. Two days later, he was the guest of honour at the Maharaja’s banquet and left Patiala the same night by train at 11 pm.
The dinner service was made by a London company ‘Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company’ that was later bought by a company called Garrards. Each piece of the service has a scroll and foliage border above cast and chased panels of animals, separated by cast daggers and variously engraved or cast with coat-of-arms, crown and initials.
Some of the more spectacular items include a centrepiece formed as three bowls supported on a shaped conforming stand with flower and foliage decorated feet applied with cast elephant’s mask. Also included are a set of four five-light candelabara, each on four lion’s paw feet, a pair of soup tureens with lion mask-capped handles, and centrepiece bowls with lions’ mask capped handles and on four lions’ paw feet.
The service is expected to attract the interest of collectors, both Indian and foreign, as well as NRI businessmen trying to create an impression for a wedding. The entire collection was first offered for sale in London back in 1977. It was bought privately and is now being offered again for sale. The identity of the seller has been kept private.
Commenting on the significance of the collection, Christie’s European head of silver Harry Williams-Bulkeley told the Tribune, “The service is absolutely huge. What’s fascinating about it is that it’s a mixture of English forms with Indian inspired ornaments. So you have the lion and the elephant and the lotus flower, it’s a blending of English forms and Indian-inspired ornaments, including the Maharaja’s coat of arms.”
“What’s extraordinary is the range of items. Originally, it would have been for 200 people. Now its various plates for 183 people, not totally complete but almost. He was an important Maharaja, an incredible sportsman, revered for his skills as a cricket and a polo player and the first man in India to own an aircraft and founder of the Patiala Aviation Club.”
Commenting on the lavish lifestyle of the Patiala royal family, a spokesperson for Christie’s noted how the Maharaja and his wife commissioned Cartier to mount the De Beers diamond as the centerpiece of the magnificent ‘Patiala Necklace’.
The Maharaja was also an early motorcar enthusiast, who liked to travel in a motorcade of 20 Rolls Royces. Legend has it that in 1930, he had a falling out with Rolls Royce who he felt slighted him by refusing to accept an order. So great was his power and influence that it is said he forced the Viceroy to pressure Rolls Royce to change their decision.
Royal tag: £1-1.5 million
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh commissioned the banqueting service, comprising 200 dinner plates, smaller plates and dishes, to commemorate the February 1922 Patiala visit of Edward, the Prince of Wales
Each piece of the service has a scroll and foliage border above cast and chased panels of animals, separated by cast daggers and variously engraved or cast with coat-of-arms, crown and initials
The collection was first offered for sale in London in 1977. It was bought privately and is now being offered again for sale
The service is being offered for sale by Christie’s auctioneers in London with an estimated price of £1million to £1.5 million