Attic-Cleaning Of A Lifetime: Finding The Weapons Of Tipu Sultan

The Tipu Sultan weapons auction made an afternoon of attic-cleaning well-worth the time

Cleaning the attic isn’t fun, but we trust the Berskhire couple that came across weapons from the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War found it worthwhile. The English couple discovered a cache of arms that had been used in the 1799 conflict. At the end of March, the collection was auctioned off for £107,000—or $138,000 in U.S. dollars.

The Anglo-Mysore War was between the British East India Tea Company and the Kingdom of Mysore, located in South India. Mysore was led by Tipu Sultan and the battle was a byproduct of the Napoleonic wars sweeping through Europe.

Sultan sought an alliance with Napoleon, but after British intelligence uncovered the plan, Arthur Wellesley—later to become known as the Duke of Wellington– led troops into the final of four battles against Sultan.

Sultan was killed in battle and part of the historical find included a 20-bore flintlock gun and bayonet, said to be part of his personal collection. After his death they were picked up on the battlefield by Major Thomas Hart and made their way back to England. The weapons have remained with his family until their rediscovery earlier this year.

The Indian sultan was a figure of historical importance, adding to the value of his personal weapons. Tipu Sultan’s admirers point out his work in economic development that made Mysore a noteworthy financial player on the 18th-century global stage. Detractors have pointed to repressive actions taken against Christians and Hindus.

Wherever a historian falls on the spectrum, there’s no denying the consequence Tipu Sultan played for this region and his final, fatal battle, is captured in the historical novel Sharpe’s Tiger.

The 20-bore flintock gun and bayonet fetched £60,000 on its own, nearly two-thirds of the value of the overall cache. Auctioneer Anthony Cribbs said of the finding “When I first saw the gun I nearly fainted. It is a once in a lifetime find.”

Read about another couple who found treasure in their own backyard.