It is vital for us to comprehend why most of us react to the oldest, most primitive, antique items which we often come across. To understand and appreciate the aesthetic values of true antiques is astounding.
Antiques dealer are usually passionate and avid antique collectors themselves. They go to any extent and are ready to pay any amount if the antique is price-less in terms of its previous ownership or the era/period to which it belongs.
One such antiques dealer, who is second generation of his breed with the same passion is 46 years old Manoj Galomal Nichwani, the youngest among four brothers. It was his father who had the passion and love for antiques. During his life-time, he had collected an incredible collection of antiques. It was only after 10 years of his father’s sad demise that he took-up the hobby and satiated his passion for antiques.
However, unlike some unscrupulous collectors and dealers, Manoj Nichwani holds morality and ethics besides being honest while dealing with his love for antiques.
In 1988, an antique shop situated in Mohan Nagar was burgled. Unfortunately for the thief, the thief without knowing the integrity of Manoj Nichwani came to sell the stolen antiques to him. Manoj very cleverly organized and ensured that the thief is caught and all the stolen antiques recovered from him. Manoj Nichwani was rewarded for by the then Commissioner of Police and by various social organizations.
When asked how he assesses the antiques, Manoj said that with so many years of experience, he knows how to judge the value of a particular idol, artifact or antique goods. He says, some of the antiques get certified by archeology departments and inform about the percentage of metallic content (percentage of gold or silver) etc.
Period sensitive antiques get good price, he added. Manoj also claimed that rare, handmade idols and artifacts get good demand or value.
His collection is so vast that he does not even remember all the goods he has. He has many limited edition coins, notes, currency of erstwhile kingdoms, of foreign countries etc, silver, copper and bronze coins. Some of the coins are from Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb’s period. He also has a collection of coins from British era like Queen Victoria etc. He has a huge collection of miniature silver idols.
He has a book written in 1853 by a writer from Pune written in pure Marathi. The book prophesies about almost all the political scenarios in the country. Surprisingly, there is a mention in the book about the end of Congress rule and the beginning of BJP rule. However, the writer of the book has prophesied that the BJP rule will end in 5 years and then practically disappear.
Similarly, he has real Laboratory tested Kali Haldi (Black-Turmeric) piece. This is said to have miraculous powers. The holder of the place will always be protected and no possession of his can ever be robbed. The Kali Haldi is said to ward off all evils too. He also possesses one eyed coconut. Among jeweler, he owns real and original pearl necklaces owned by Moghul queens. He has a load of antique rings.
While speaking about who will continue his passion for the collection and dealing with Antiques, he said, unfortunately, his elder son does not have the same passion, but my younger son Ishwar Nichwani is already displaying the avid collector’s passion.
Manoj Nichwani claimed that he owns a shop in Nepal in Katmandu, named Soni Jewellers. He visits his shop for 7 days in Nepal every month. He has displayed a good collection there and gets adequate rate or price for the antiques from foreigners there.
Apart from this, Manoj Nichwani is also an Astrologer, good face and palm reader. Many reputed leaders of Maharashtra have been beneficiaries of his advice, he claims. He claimed that he has made rings for Nitin Raut, Ashok Chavan, Vasantrao Patang, Anil Deshmukh, former CM Pritviraj Chavan, a ring studded with Pukhraj (Yellow Safire) worth Rs 1.2 lakhs.
Apart from that he also deals with gold jewellery. He sells gems (precious and semi-precious), rings, bracelets, bangles and chains. He is a multi-faceted man of many talents and contacts.
As told to Samuel Gunasekharan and Ravikant Kamble. Pics by Amol Gajbhiye