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A long innings

C. Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons is now in news because the silver cricket bat it made 30 years ago was auctioned at Christie's. But not many know that the well-known jewellery house has patronised sports for over a century



Mallappa Shinde presenting the silver bat to Farokh Engineer

THE LATE Mallappa K. Shinde wouldn't quite have imagined that his gift to a cricketer he admired would be making big news 30 years later! The silver bat the late Mallappa of the famed cricket enthusiast Shinde family of Bangalore presented to Farokh Engineer in 1973 was on auction earlier this week at Christie's at London. The bat is the work of a jewellery house that has been a household name here for 135 years — C. Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons.

"We are pleasantly surprised that the bat was up for auction. We are happy it was by Christie's," Vinod Hayagriv, Managing Director of C. Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons, says.

The silver bat was expected to fetch 10,000. But the auction saw a buyer willing to pay only 7,500. Christie's then refused the offer stating that the minimum could not be less than 10,000. The auction house stated that the bid may have been low owing to the fact that this is off-season for cricket and prospects could improve during summer.

Vinod points out that the value of silver in the bat itself works out to Rs. 70,000. Its value, however, is almost ten-folds now. "The proven provenance (ownership) of a piece enhances its value. The provenance is recorded and authenticated. India has not seen auctions of this kind. The Duchess of Windsor may have beautiful pieces of jewellery. When you pick one such piece, it is not for the value of the metal, but for its value by the person who possessed it. The value of the bat lies in its provenance, who produces it and where," he explains. The value of the bat, he says comes from three factors — that it belonged to someone as charismatic as Farokh Engineer, donated by cricket enthusiasts so well-known, and was made by a jewellery house that has a traditions dating back to over a century. "It is heritage. One cannot evaluate heritage," Vinod says.

Vinod says that Shindes have presented two silver bats (to Tony Grieg and Farokh Engineer) and two silver balls (to B.S. Chandrashekar and Derek Underwood). They did so simply because they loved cricket and cricketers. All of them were made by C. Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons. "They are our clients for over 40 years," says Vinod.

One learns that the jewellery house itself made donations to outstanding cricketers during the '60s and '70s. The house would also sponsor salvers and mementos to outstanding cricketers at every test match played here. It has made memorabilia for cricketers from both India and abroad. Interestingly, the jewellery house also sponsored and made trophies and memorabilia for racecourses and polo clubs in the early 1990s.

Vinod proudly points out that C. Krishnaiah Chetty and Sons were appointed jewellers to the Maharaja of Mysore, the Royal family of Travancore, and the Nawab of Savanur too.

Whether a silver bat made for a cricket fan or golden cufflinks for a crown prince, this jewellery house has been a sparkling success.

PRASHANTH G.N.

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