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A handout picture released by East Bristol Auctions on August 19, 2020 shows a pair of glasses that once belonged to Indian independence icon Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi photographed at the action house in Bristol head of their sale. Image Credit: AFP

Bristol: A pair of iconic glasses belonging to Mahatma Gandhi, were sold for £260,000 at an auction in the UK on Friday, weeks after an envelope containing them was left hanging out of the auction house's letterbox.

The gold-coloured wire spectacles were left in an envelope in the East Bristol Auction house in England's southwest by a man whose uncle had been given the glasses by Gandhi during the 1920s, said auctioneer Andrew Stowe.

"We came into work one Monday morning, a few weeks back, two or three weeks ago, and hanging out of our letter box was this kind of rather discreet white envelope, quite literally hanging out of our letterbox. We took it in, opened it up and inside there was this pair of spectacles along with a little note, which said, 'These once belonged to Gandhi, give me a call'," Stowe said.

"They've been in the same family for 100 years and at no point in that 100 year lifetime did anyone ever think they were worth anything... When I first spoke to the vendor, his exact words to me were, 'Well if they are no good, just throw them away'," he added.

The glasses, which were sold to an American collector after six minutes of phone bidding, were initially thought to be worth between £10,000 and £20,000.

However, within 24 hours of the spectacles being listed online, they attracted bids from around the world for over £50,000, said Stowe.

"Within 24 hours of them being online, they attracted bids well over 50,000 pounds. We have had interest from India, of course, India, lots of interest from India, but Canada, Australia, Europe, Iceland we had some interest from, so it's a real kind of international story," he said.

Gandhi, who was born in 1869, advocated for non-violence throughout his life and played a key role in India's struggle for independence. His birthday, October 2, is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.