Bonhams : Brothers in ArmsThe Fraser Brothers Collection of Rare Early 19th Century Arms at the Islamic and Indian Sale
Brothers in Arms
The Fraser Brothers Collection of Rare Early 19th Century Arms at the Islamic and Indian Sale

A rare collection of arms belonging to the Fraser brothers, best remembered for The Fraser Album – an assemblage of rare Indian paintings, now considered among the greatest masterpieces of Indian Art - will be offered at Bonhams Islamic and Indian sale on 22 October in London. The arms collection forms a comprehensive representation of weapons that would have been used in North India in the early 19th Century.

William Fraser (1784-1835) left Inverness and travelled to India in 1801 at the age of 16 to take up a career in the political service of the East India Company. His brother James Baillie Fraser (1783-1856), a Scottish artist and travel writer, later followed to join a merchant house in Calcutta. It was in 1815, when the pair travelled together, that James encouraged William to commission local artists to record the people and scenes he came across in his work. These works would later make up The Fraser Album.

It was also on one of these trips, during the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816) while William was attached to the army as a Political Agent, that many of the arms offered at Bonhams were acquired by the Frasers.

Amongst the highlights in the collection are two silver-thread embroidered quivers from North India which were presented to William by a Sikh nobleman. The velvet clad Quivers both have an estimate of £6,000-8,000. Other items include a Mughal jade-hilted dagger from the 17th/18th Century (estimate: £3,000-4,000), two steel swords (Tulwars) from the 18th/19th Century (estimate: £1,200-1,500) and a gold Koftgari-hilted steel push dagger (Katar) from the 18th/19th Century (estimate: £1,000-1,500).

Other highlights in the sale include:
• A bound group of 10 leaves from 6 separate Suras of a dispersed manuscript of the Qur'an. The Arabic manuscript, written in Kufic script on vellum, is from the 9th Century. Estimate: £80,000-120,000
• A Schist figure of Hariti, Circa 2nd Century depicted seated with one hand holding a child on her lap. Estimate £80,000-150,000
• A velvet Ottoman panel, estimate £15,000-20,000, and a portrait of Nur Al-Din Hussein Khan by British painter James Wales in 1792, estimate £50,000-70,000. They have both previously been in the collection of the former Queen of Jordan.
• A fine Mughal jade Archer's ring decorated in rubies and emeralds. Estimate £10,000-15,000
• A collection of Central Asian Textiles owned by Count Tassilo Graf Wolff Metternich including a Bokhara silk embroidered linen panel, 19th century. Estimate: £5,000-7,000.

Related auctions