In vino veritas? Mystery surrounds $5,000 Napoleon wine glass auction



A wine glass thought to have once belonged to Napoleon will star at Bonhams' Fine British and European Glass and Paperweights auction on June 15 in London.

The glass is offered in a red-leather coated wooden case with gilded toolwork, and attached to the case is a handwritten note that reads: "Wine Glass of 1st Emperor Napoleon given to James C.Fyler Esqr. by the Count Strasoldo Governor of Elba in 1818 A.D."

It is unusual for a liquor glass to be encased in such a fine manner, strongly suggesting that the owner may have been a senior military commander on campaign.

In 1814 Napoleon was exiled to the Italian island of Elba following his abdication at Fontainbleau, and he lived in a house that was subsequently inhabited by the governor of the island.

Napoleon’s wine glass could make $5,000

Simon Cottle, head of Bonhams' glass department, comments: "This example strongly resembles a similar glass in the Museo Napoleonico in Rome which was directly acquired from descendants of Napoleon, and the case is specially made for the glass (which bears the crowned N for the Emperor).

"This indicates its special nature and it was very portable which would have been ideal for a man on a campaign. Although much of it is circumstantial, weighing up all the evidence it seems highly likely that the glass once belonged to the man himself."

The glass is estimated to sell for £2,000-3,000, which could make it worthy material for alternative investors.

The fascination that surrounds Napoleon and the interesting story behind this piece could see it achieve significantly more in years to come, although the uncertainty regarding its provenance will likely prevent it achieving vast sums.

There's no uncertainty surrounding a locket of Napoleon's hair currently available at A Small Piece of History. The piece has excellent provenance, originating from the collection of Margaretta Pierrepont, wife of President Ulysees S Grant's attorney general.

A clock believed to have been designed for Napoleon's 'Exposition publique des produits de l'industrie Francaise' in 1801 will sell for an estimated £200,000-300,000 at Bonhams in London later this month.

Paul Fraser Collectibles will bring you the results of both these fascinating items.

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