Napoleon Bonaparte collectibles

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wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:41:39

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was a French emperor in the 1800s.

Today remembered for his military genius, charisma and near-conquering of Europe.

 

Value of the collectors’ markets

According to the memorabilia markets’ PFC40 Autograph Index, Bonaparte’s signature value appreciated by 352.3% over a 10 year period between 2000 and 2010. Today, the average market value of a Napoleon signed letter is £4,500, according to the research.

Notable sales

Collectible hair

A lock of Napoleon Bonaparte's hair was sold for $13,200 in a New Zealand auction in June, 2010. The lock of hair was contained within a 67mm diameter case along with an inscription and sold by Auckland auctioneer Art and Object.

Tooth

In November 2005, an upper right permanent canine tooth, believed to have belonged to Napoleon was sold by Dominic Winter Book Auctions in Wiltshire, UK, for £11,000.

It is thought that the tooth was removed during Napoleon’s exile to St Helena following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The tooth was passed by Napoleon’s physician Barry O'Meara to General Maceroni, aide de camp to the King of Naples.

Napoleon is known to have suffered from dental problems. In 1816 he suffered terrible toothache which was eventually attributed to scurvy. By the time Napoleon died in 1821, his gums were soft and bled easily and most of his teeth were loose.

At £11,000 this is the most expensive tooth ever sold at auction.

Signed letters

A love letter from Napoleon to his future wife, Josephine, fetched £276,000 at an auction in London in 2007.

According to a BBC report, the letter belonged to an Austrian banker who died in Switzerland in 2005.

The letter is one of only three known to have been sent to Josephine by the French emperor before their marriage. In it, he apologises after a furious row.

Penis

The day after Napoleon’s death, his autopsy was conducted by his doctor, Francesco Antommarchi, in front of 17 witnesses.

Napoleon’s heart was removed due to his wish that it be given to his estranged wide. His stomach was also removed. Removal of the penis was not mentioned in any autopsy reports.

It has been suggested that Antommarchi and a priest, Vignali, who administered the last rites and conducted the funeral, may both have been alone with the body at some point. A manservant named Ali claimed that during the autopsy, he and Vignali had removed parts of the body, thought it is unclear whether or not one of these parts is the penis.

In 1916, descendants of Vignali sold his collection of Napoleonic items, including the penis, to a British rare books firm which sold the collection for around $2,000 in 1924 to Philadelphia bibliophile A.S.W. Rosenbach.

The penis has been described looking like a shrivelled eel, a shrivelled seahorse and a small shrivelled finger. It has been reported to be approximately 1”-1.5” long.

In 1977, the penis was sold by a Paris auction house for $3,000. The buyer was John K. Lattimer, a professor and former chairman of urology at the Columbia University. The penis is still in possession of the Lattimer family.

Lattimer's daughter recently declined an offer of $100,000 for the penis.

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