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Maharaja Bhupinder’s shotguns up for auction
Aman Sood
Tribune News Service

A painting depicts Maharaja Bhupinder Singh with the gun and the kill in the Gir forest in 1931.
A painting depicts Maharaja Bhupinder Singh with the gun and the kill in the Gir forest in 1931.

Patiala, November 21
Once the proud possession of the Patiala royals, the renowned Patiala 16g’s have resurfaced. A pair of two of these shotguns is being offered for sale by London’s Nicholas Holt Auction House at its December 12 Christmas auction with an estimated price bracket of £20,000 to £25,000.

The 16 guns (from which came the name 16g’s) were originally manufactured for the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, and were widely used by him during his famed hunting trips. They were last heard of some three decades ago when an art lover claimed to have seen them in London, but the guns have never been auctioned.

The guns with great provenance -- and pieces of art in themselves -- were manufactured by the renowned Westley Richards & Co. They boast of a droplock, which is certainly not common to find in the 16g format.

Commenting on the significance of the collection, Nichola Hughes, spokesperson at the Nicholas Holt Auction House, said the antique pair of guns was originally made in 1929 as a set of four. There is no information on the rest of the guns.

According to information available with the auction house, manufacturers Westley Richards & Co said the guns were ordered in 1928 and delivered in 1929 for Patiala. The guns were made as no. 3 and no. 4 with 27-inch barrels, cased with tools and with “short stocks with extensions”. “The pair of shotguns would have been commissioned by his highness Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, although we cannot ascertain which of his wives they were given to,” said the manufacturer.

Westley Richards & Co was well-known in the 1920s for its sporting guns and rifles, especially those associated with tiger shooting. Many of the finest guns were commissioned by wealthy Indian princes. The company’s two most important clients during this period were the Maharaja of Patiala and the Maharaja of Alwar.

“We are expecting connoisseurs from around the world with to participate through our online and in-house bidding process,” the auction house’s spokesperson told The Tribune over the phone from London.

“It is sad to see great pieces of art that were once in the possession of our forefathers going under the hammer. Had the then government not taken away valuables from the royal families, may be such masterpieces would have stayed in India,” said Raja Malvinder Singh, the great grandson of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh.

16g’s carry £20,000-£25,000 tag

The Patiala 16g’s were widely used by the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, during hunting trips
Manufacturer Westley Richards & Co said the guns were ordered in 1928 and delivered in 1929
The two-gun set is expected to be sold between £20,000 and £25,000 at a London auction on December 12

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh was born at Moti Bagh Palace on October 12, 1891, into a noble family ruling the princely 17-gun salute state of Patiala. Educated at Lahore’s Aitchison College, he became the Maharaja of Patiala following his father Maharaja Rajinder Singh’s death in 1900.





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