Several important consignments were brought to market to mark this year’s 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death.
On October 19 a lock of his hair was sold for £14,000 by BHL in Exeter.
One of his black bicorne hats sold for over £200,000 at Bonham’s on October 27.
And, on November 11, Spink sold documents relating to his exile on St Helena for £85,000.
On the same theme, letters from a Tayside collection reveal Bonaparte as reclusive at this time.
A Scottish surgeon’s account
They were written in 1816 by Lt George Dunlop, a Scottish surgeon with the 66th Regiment, shortly after he had arrived on St Helena as part of the guard for the fallen French Emperor.
Dunlop found Napoleon ‘gloomy’ and uncommunicative.
The first letter, written from St Helena on June 3, 1816, found the Emperor closely guarded…
“You will naturally expect that I should give you some account of Napoleon. He has of late become very shy, seldom condescends to show himself in public.
“His house is about three miles from us; our camp forms part of the chain of sentries around it.
Not impressed by Bonaparte
“He is always attended by Captain Poppleton of the 53rd, whose duty it is never to lose sight of him. In short, he never willingly sees or converses with anyone, maintaining a gloomy reserve.”
Eventually, Lt Dunlop was presented to Napoleon, but his opinion of the prisoner hardly improved in future letters…
“I confess I was much disappointed. He has very little in his appearance remarkable, and in dress is far from being good.
“I frequently see the other [French] generals who are to appearance more like their rank than he is.”
So Dunlop wasn’t much taken with the man who had conquered half of Europe.