# 41661


Sake Dean Mahomed : surgeon, traveller, introducer of Indian cuisine and shampoo to Europe, and the first Indian to publish a book in English : cut signatures in Roman and Arabic script, dated at Horsham (West Sussex), 22 July 1841.

$2,000.00 AUD

  • Ask a question

Manuscript in ink on paper, 50 x 118 mm; mounted on a section cut from a nineteenth-century album leaf, along with an accompanying cutting, in a different hand, recording the place and date the signatures were obtained: Horsham, July 22nd 1841 (Horsham is just 18 miles from Brighton, where Dean Mahomed lived from 1814 until his death in 1851); verso blank; well preserved.

‘Born into the Indian ‘Nai’ (barbers) caste, Mahomed served in the East India Company Army before emigrating to Ireland. He was the first Indian to publish a book in English with The Travels of Dean Mahomet, an autobiography. He converted from Islam to Anglicanism to marry Jane Daly because laws at the time prohibited Protestants marrying non-Protestants. Moving to London, he introduced ‘Champi’ head massage, practised by barbers in India, to Sir Basil Cochrane’s new vapour bath at Portman Square. Eager to start his own business, he established Britain’s first Indian restaurant in 1810. The ‘Hindoostane Coffee House’ was well received but financial struggles forced its closure by 1812. In a strategic move to Brighton, he established a medical practice popularising ‘Champi’ by promoting its health benefits to the British public. His services were so highly regarded that he was appointed ‘Shampooing Surgeon’ to George IV and William IV.’ (NPG, London)

These extremely rare specimens of Sake Dean Mahomed’s own handwriting were executed by him when he was, by the standards of the time, in advanced old age. This accounts for the shakiness of his hand. It is noteworthy that in Roman script, after the honorific Sake, his own preference was to spell the first part of his name Deen rather than Dean. Furthermore, his Arabic signature has poor letter-formation and the hand appears hesitant, as if he has lost the ability to sign his name with fluency: the final letter of Mahomed appears more like an ‘r’ than a ‘d’.

Provenance: Autograph album compiled by a member of the Balcombe family, “The Briars,” Mornington, Victoria (Australia); à Beckett family, Melbourne (by descent).