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Tibetan treasures reveal links to The Great Game

Sometimes even the most run of the mill collectible can reveal a winding back-story that will continue to fascinate long into the future.

On August 10, a group of photographs, a bashed-up old teapot and two Buddhist statues appeared at auction – all fairly standard consignments at a provincial auction house.Tibetan, Flog It, statue, Henry Aldridge, Expedition, Younghusband

They had first appeared on the BBC TV show Flog It!, where experts confirmed that they were of little value.

However, come sale day, they rocketed to a staggering £140,000 – and it’s no surprise, once you hear of their fascinating past.

The items all originate from the 1904 “expedition” led by British Colonel Francis Younghusband to Tibet, which was actually a thinly disguised temporary invasion of the country.

British, Tibet, Expedition, Younghusband

Tibetan and British officers “negotiating”

The expedition has become infamous, with thousands of Tibetans massacred and officials forced to sign the Great Britain and Tibet Convention, allowing certain trade advantages and effectively converting Tibet into a British protectorate.

As such, any item relating to the expedition has become highly collectible.

But what’s more fascinating is the wider context of the expedition. It took place during a time when Britain and Russia were engaged in what has become known as The Great Game.

A political cartoon created during The Great Game

A political cartoon created during The Great Game

The Great Game was a struggle for empirical power in Central Europe, where adventurers, soldiers  and diplomats were sent to protect the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, India.

Interestingly, despite a truce between the superpowers for a short while, the Cold War became known as The Great Game II – some things never change!




About paulfrasercollectibles

Expert opinion, news, views and interviews allowing you to collect and invest with confidence.

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