Auction of Napoleon Bonaparte's Pistols Fetches €1.69 Million

Auction of Napoleon Bonaparte's Pistols Fetches €1.69 Million

Two pistols that Napoleon Bonaparte once planned to use to end his life were auctioned for €1.69 million ($1.8 million) in Fontainebleau, south of Paris. The sale price exceeded the anticipated range of €1.2-1.5 million, with the buyer remaining anonymous. Napoleon memorabilia is highly coveted, as demonstrated by the sale of one of his "bicorne" black cocked hats for €1.9 million in November.

National Treasure Status

Prior to the sale, the French culture ministry's national treasures commission designated the pistols as national treasures and imposed an export ban. This decision was documented in the official government journal. The classification allows the French government 30 months to make a purchase offer to the new owner, who may decline. National treasures can only leave France temporarily and must be returned.

Historical Importance and Decoration

The pistols, which have been decorated with gold and silver, had a picture of Napoleon in his full imperial attire inscribed on them. These guns are of enormous historical significance. In 1814 after his army was defeated and Paris was occupied by foreign forces, Napoleon almost used these pistols to commit suicide. According to Jean-Pierre Osenat, an expert from the auction house, Napoleon intended to commit suicide using these weapons since he was very depressed after being defeated during the French campaign but the grand squire removed the power from it. Instead of that, Napoleon swallowed poison but miraculously recovered after vomiting; the pistols were later given to his squire as a token of appreciation for his loyalty.

Napoleon's Suicide Attempt

Napoleon tried killing himself in 1814 when his army was defeated and Paris occupied during the defeat. Poison he took did not kill him though he survived it having attempted suicide by swallowing it through his mouth. Such an incident increases its historic value thus making it even more appealing to collectors. The gift became a sign of gratitude for Caulaincourt’s faithfulness toward Napoleon who handed over them afterwards.

Continued Fascination about Napoleon Collectibles

Collectors still treasure Napoleon relics. In November, one of his famous black cocked hats called “bicorne” was sold for €1.9 million. These items have immense appeal because they bear historical and cultural significance.

Napoleon’s Exile and Return in Context

After stepping down as emperor, he was sent into exile on Elba Island near Italy. He made a spectacular comeback to France but was finally defeated by the British at Waterloo in 1815. For his remaining years, he lived in Saint Helena, where he died six years later.

According to an Osenat auction representative, “When you are classified as a national treasure it gives the object an incredible value.” This is indicative of the greater historical and cultural weight attached to anything connected with Napoleon.

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