Ten years after being found lying in the vaults of an English bank, a gem-encrusted gold finial plundered from Tipu Sultan’s(was the ruler of Mysore, India) huge golden throne is being put up for sale in London. Auctioneers Bonhams, who describe the finial as “one of the most important Tipu items ever to appear for sale”, have valued it at around 800,000 pounds.
The tiger-head finial was one of eight that stood on each end of a gigantic gold octagonal throne in Seringpatnam, on which Tipu – a legendary admirer of the tiger (known as the Tiger himself) – would have sat cross-legged, but didn’t because he vowed not to mount it until he had defeated the British. The finial going under the hammer April 2 belongs to the family of Thomas Wallace, who oversaw the East India Company, whose army defeated Tipu Sultan in a battle. The tiger head, which is encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, had lain at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland before being hidden away in a bank. A source described the finial as “without a doubt, of the greatest historical significance as it belongs to the most important symbolic object in Tipu Sultan’s kingdom, his throne.”