From rare letters to Napoleon's stockings: the French Empire is brought to life

Nobody enjoys getting socks for Christmas. But what if you received a pair that once belonged to Napoleon?

A pair of Bonaparte's silk stockings will be one of the lots in an auction celebrating the French Empire next month. The sale in Fontainebleau will see a number of Napoleonic medals, journals and important documents go under the hammer on December 5, and for collectors it could offer a genuine insight into one of the most fascinating periods of French history.

Of particular interest to collectors will be the impressive set of 'Grande Armee' correspondence, a series of letters and agendas sent between generals and staff from the Ministry of War between October 8 and December 16, 1805.

The unique set of documents relates to some of Napoleon's
most famous military victories

This correspondence offers fascinating details about his greatest victory, the Battle of Austerlitz against Austrian and Russian forces, as well as information about the Battle of Elchingen and the taking of Ulm (with a copy of the deed of surrender).

The letters, which often took up to a month to come back from the front line, are a rarity and give insights into manoeuvres as well as detailing the conditions the men were fighting under.

The set of truly important documents has an estimated price of $27,400 - $41,000, but due to their historical significance the bidding could easily go much higher.

The pair of silk stockings owned by Napoleon

As for Napoleon's stockings, they're woven from an ivory silk and decorated with an embroidered stripe bordered by two roses and have a pre-sale estimate of  $20,500 - $27,400.

Items of Napoleonic memorabilia (such as his signature available here) have always proven popular with collectors, and the more intimate the item is the more sought-after it becomes. Even samples of his hair are available, so these stockings could prove a marvellous opportunity for an investor with an eye for the unusual. Or a Christmas gift for the collector who has everything. Just make sure they're under 5" 6'....


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