Top 5: Weirdest Napoleon Bonaparte memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:29:37

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.


2) Hair - $13,200

A lock of hair, cut from the head of Napoleon the day after his death in 1821 was sold at a New Zealand auction held by the Art + Object Auction House in June 2010.

The hair was part of a collection of around 40 items bought to New Zealand in 1864 by British commissary officer and artist, Denzil Ibbetson, who served on St Helena during the time that Napoleon was held there after he was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.

The collection also included Ibbetson’s drawing of Napoleon on his death bed.

The Art + Object Auction House revealed that interest in the item came from many places including Hong Kong, the United States, Lithuania and France. It eventually sold to an anonymous collector in London.

More recently, a lock of Napoleon’s hair was discovered during the filming of the BBC2 series ‘Antiques Road Trip’. It was found inside a book belonging to Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford in Scotland, and was traced back to an officer who had served under the Duke of Wellington during the Napoleonic War.

3) Silk stockings - $5,676

A pair of silk stockings, which were worn by the Emperor before and during his exile on St Helena were sold for $5,676 at a Heritage Auction Galleries sale in July 2009.

The lightly toned stockings were given by Napoleon to an aide, Major Joseph Archambault on St Helena, who was one of the 12 men selected to accompany Napoleon to St Helena. They were accompanied by a handwritten letter from two sons of Archambault's, describing how their father came across them.

4) Penis - $3,000

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.

5) Wallpaper - £1,250

A 3” scrap of wallpaper from the bedroom used by Napoleon during his imprisonment on St Helena by the British was sold for £1,250 by Mullock’s auctioneers in October 2003. It is one of the few surviving fragments of wallpaper from the room.

It is believed by some that Napoleon was poisoned by arsenic used in the wallpaper after it was found that a strand of his hair contained eight times the normal amount of the chemical in it.

The item was bought over the telephone by an institution with an interest in wallpaper.

Share on social media
Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.

collect it