In a French auction of Napoleon memorabilia, the famous general's essay on campaign fortification has set a new world record.
Selling on December 2 near Paris, the essay brought an impressive $489,830 to become the most valuable Napoleon manuscript ever sold at auction.
The essay was dictated and annotated by Napoleon during his exile at Saint Helena and shows his reflections on the unsuccessful Russian invasion, where he had been forced to retreat due to harsh conditions.
Spanning more than 300 pages with 44 illustrations, the work was written by Napoleon's faithful general and confidant, Henri Gatien Bertrand, who had accompanied Napoleon to the island. It had been consigned to auction by Bertrand's family.
Also selling well was a coded letter in which Napoleon vows to blow up the Kremlin, which achieved a 1,150% increase on its $19,593 high estimate, selling for $244,896.
Addressed to Napoleon's secretary Hugues-Bernard Maret, Duc de Bassano and dated October 20, 1812, the letter was sent the day after Napoleon had retreated from Moscow. Despite having entered the deserted capital, Napoleon was forced to withdraw his troops due to a lack of food and men.
The bombing of the Kremlin was carried out as planned by Marshal Mortier, with the attack destroying a number of the building's towers and sections of its walls. However, Napoleon's Russian campaign would end with the general's undefeated record severely tarnished, culminating in the Great Retreat in which many of his men perished.
With Sunday's excellent results and Napoleon signed letters up 11.3% pa, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index, there has never been a better time to invest in his memorabilia. Paul Fraser Collectibles has a superb selection of Napoleon Bonaparte signed letters for sale, as well as an authentic strand of his hair.
For more great signed items that will make the perfect present this year, see the range of unique Christmas Gifts we have available.