Napoleon Pistol

Napoleon pistols, £1.4m at Osenat. 

Osenat and Rossini auction houses. 

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The pistols Napoleon Bonaparte was supposedly meant to use on himself after defeat sold for €1.69m (£1.4m) including buyer’s premium at auction house Osenat in Fontainebleau, France.

Carrying an estimate of €1.2m-1.5m, the pistols were presented by Napoleon to his friend and Grand Ecuyer Armand de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza just after his attempted suicide at Fontainebleau on 12/13 April 1814.  

Events had accelerated after the capitulation of Paris on 30 March 1814 after which Napoleon was finally forced to accept the Treaty of Fontainebleau, putting an end to the reign of himself and his heirs.

According to Caulaincourt, Napoleon was talking about how to kill himself for days in the aftermath, frequently examining his pistols. However, the grand squire removed the gunpowder, so he had to resort to poison instead, from which he survived. Napoleon then gave the pistols to Caulaincourt as a thank you for his loyalty.

He was later exiled to Elba, off the coast of Italy, before making a return to France and being roundly defeated by the British at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and exiled to Saint Helena.

The pistols were contained within a walnut veneer box with green velvet lining the inside lid and the letter ‘N’. The silver lockplate read: BOITE DE PISTOLETS DONNÉE À FONTAINEBLEAU À Monsieur le DUC DE VICENCE PAR L’EMPEREUR NAPOLÉON EN 1814 (‘box of pistols given to the Duke of Vicenza by Emperor Napoleon at Fontainebleau in 1814’).

The French government had imposed an export bar on the pistols to keep them in the country. They sold to an anonymous buyer.