An illuminated miniature Qur'an, formerly in the possession of Edward Smith, private secretary to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, with two letters relating to its provenance Mughal India, early 17th Century(4)

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Lot 30
An illuminated miniature Qur'an, formerly in the possession of Edward Smith, private secretary to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, with two letters relating to its provenance
Mughal India, early 17th Century
(4)

Sold for £ 3,500 (US$ 4,810) inc. premium
An illuminated miniature Qur'an, formerly in the possession of Edward Smith, private secretary to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, with two letters relating to its provenance
Mughal India, early 17th Century
Arabic manuscript on paper, in octagonal form, approximately 200 leaves (uncollated), 15 lines to the page written in ghubari script in black ink with diacritics and vowel points in black, lacking verse markers and catchwords, inner margins ruled in gold, sura headings in larger thuluth script in red ink within gold rectangular panels, illuminated double-page frontispiece in colours and gold, dampstaining, edges frayed, folios loose, one detached maroon morocco cover decorated with gilt motifs in Ottoman style, in metal and red leather boxes, cotton bag
37 x 40 mm.; red leather box 53 x 55 mm.(4)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Edward Smith (d. 1830), secretary to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, 1774-85.
    His daughter, Mary Crease [?], Devon, from 1830.
    Private UK collection.

    The first of the two letters included in the lot is Mary Crease's account of the manuscript's history (undated, but probably late 19th Century). It was brought back from India after his thirty-year service with the Company by her father, Edward Smith, of Ince [?] Castle, Cornwall. She asks the letter's addressee, a certain Lionel Moore, Secretary at the British Embassy in Constantinople, whether the Sultan might be interested in purchasing the Qur'an. She claims that it was worn as an amulet on the arm of the Emperor Akbar, that it was copied by his vizier, and that it was originally contained within a gem-set gold box (which she had presumably already sold, as she gives its price as £500). The manuscript had been viewed by the Turkish Ambassador in 1816 on a visit to Edward Smith. She was apparently unsuccessful in her attempt to sell it, since the second letter is a reply from Charles Rieu (1820-1902), Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the British Museum from 1867, Professor of Arabic and Persian at University College, London, Professor of Arabic at Cambridge, and father of E. V. Rieu, one of the founders of Penguin Classics. He offers to inspect it but on the face of it thinks that the Museum would be unlikely to offer as much money as she would like.
Contacts
An illuminated miniature Qur'an, formerly in the possession of Edward Smith, private secretary to Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, with two letters relating to its provenance Mughal India, early 17th Century(4)
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