Napoleon hair found in great novelist's book on TV's Antiques Roadshow


The BBC's Antiques Roadshow is a TV programme which examines many fine and fascinating art and antiques, but as a general rule it is not known for valuing particularly weird memorabilia (leaving that kind of thing to Four Rooms).

When it was called to the former home of Sir Walter Scott in the Borders, however, the team made a rather surprising discovery in a blotter which had belonged to Napoleon.

A small handwritten note dated 8 November 1827, written to Sir Walter Scott from a Mr Dalton was found inside which contains a lock of Napoleon's hair.

Mr Dalton explains in the note that the hair was given to him by one of the Duke of Wellington's subordinates, Lt Col Elphinstone. He was sending it as Scott was famed for being a passionate collector.

The Emperor's hair can be very valuable - collectors can buy some, and indeed the hair of Lord Nelson on A Small Piece of History.

In general, Napoleon memorabilia can be very valuable. For example, an exceptionally rare one page letter from Napoleon to his trusted Duc de Feltre requesting that three cities in Prussia be militarily re-enforced is available on the private markets.

I think we may need more gunpowder - the rare Napoleon letter
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Whilst some collectors are keen on owning a piece of what was on Napoleon's head, the letter gives away something that was in his head: The Prince of the nation of Prussia, previously subdued by the French, had hightailed it away from French supervision.

Napoleon correctly inferred that he was about to stir the Prussians into a return to war, (with a famous series of speeches) and reinforced nearby towns accordingly.

Other items in Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford collections include a silver urn given to Scott by Lord Bryon, and a clock which is believed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette. The edition of the Antiques Roadshow featuring the collection airs on September 14.


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