25 March 2007

India in Transition. Aga Khan, 1918.

His Highness Aga Khan. INDIA IN TRANSITION. A Study of Political Evolution By His Highness Aga Khan, Putnam, NY & Warner, London 1918.

Current Selling Prices
$900-$2000 /£450-£1100

Scarce, valuable and much sought after book. The New York edition is white cloth lettered gilt at the spine so attracts soiling and is unlikely to show up in stellar condition. This Aga Khan (III) was the 48th Ima'm of the Shia Ismaili Muslims known as Sultan Muhammad Shah (1877-1957.) He was writing on the need for reforms among Muslims, communal electorates and representation. The Story of Pakistan site says of him that he:-
'...greatly contributed towards the political cause of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. He led the Muslim delegation to Simla in 1906 where the Muslims, for the first time, put forward their demand for a separate electorate. He was elected the first president of All India Muslim League in 1906, an office that he held till 1912. Aga Khan was a man of vision and was of the opinion that the reform scheme introduced by the British would be beneficial to the Muslims. He wrote a book on the need of reforms for the Muslims, known as "India in Transition", which was published in 1918.'
He made his first trip to Europe in 1898 and was received graciously at Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria who sat him beside her in the seat reserved for the highest religious head in the country. This signal honour occasioned great surprise, as no foreigner had been shown so much respect before, and was given wide publicity. He answered many questions about the famine and plague in India and was given a respectful hearing by a distinguished company.

At Devonshire House and Landsdowne House, lavish parties were given in his honour. "He wore pince-nez and twirled a neat black moustache which gave him an appearance more academic than military, but there was a sparkle in his conversation that titillated a London influenced by Wilde and Beardsley..."remarked one of His Royal Highness's biographers. His horse Jeddah, won the Epsom Derby (100 to 1 odds) - the first win for the colours of the Aga Khan. The first of many! [ W/Q * ]

One copy listed at an ambitious price, perhaps several times its real value given condition (and tried without sale on ebay) has been there a year at a fluctuating £3000; another better copy at £2500 (the preferred London edition) is no longer for sale. Possibly a flash in the pan price although there is alot of money in some Indian items due to the many high net worth Indian collectors. It is also the only copy currently available although cheaper copies may come and go quite quickly with this price as a marker.

It is hard to believe that a book published in London and New York by major publishers is so thin on the ground. One thing you never see are the books that sell upon upload. Lastly a look at ebay shows a copy from Sep 2006 rebound in leather seliing at £200 and another mentioned as having sold at £400. Ebay, as always, throws a curve ball at the prices. It is possible there was also an Indian edition (in English.)

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