New Delhi: National Archives has lived up to the expectations of President Pranab Mukherjee by getting a 200-year-old historical book presented to the then British Viceroy Lord George Curzon in 1904 restored in good condition for Rashtrapati Bhavan library.
After taking over as President in July 2012, Mukherjee has been devoting time to restoring places of historical importance within the sprawling 340-room Rashtrapati Bhavan to their original glory. A revamp of the library to match the ambience in 1950 was the first step. The Presidential staff found the Curzon book in a bad condition and sent it to National Archives for restoration.
After months of hard work, the book "The British gallery of engravings: from pictures of the Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools", written by William Edward Forster, Chaplain to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, formed part of the rare treasure in the library. The book, which was published in 1807 by William Savage, Bedford Bury, was presented to the then Viceroy Lord Curzon in 1905 who has signed it.
"The book was presented to me by Raja of Hill of Tripura," wrote Lord Curzon, who was the Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, on the book. The 2,000-odd books, dating from 1800 to 1947, in the library can be a real treat to any researcher. They include a rare book of 1800 written by Alexander Beaston on "A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultan".
The library also showcases 100 books of Punch, a British weekly magazine of humour and satire launched in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. The bi-yearly book, which comprises compilation of the weekly magazine, was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration.
A 12-volume Oxford dictionary of 1888, compiled by James A H Murray, is also part of the collection of 2,000 old books of the library besides "Transfer of Power 1942-47" brought out by Great Britain: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.