University Archives


"Emperor Napoleon's Horse" Rosette from St. Helena, Ex-Nicholson Napoleon Collection

A relic related to French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) dating from his exile on St. Helena, ca. 1815-1821. From the Nicholson Napoleon Collection.

The relic is described in its accompanying handwritten note as "Part of the Roset[te] of the Emperor Napoleons Horse given to me by the Wife of a Searjeant of the 53d Regt of Foot Stationed During the Exile of Napoleon at St Helena - on Board the Durham Packet commanded by Captn Marshall Monday the first of July 1822 Hannah Maria Standford." The rosette appears to be made of a black felt-like material and measures approximately 1.75" x 1.25." The handwritten note is accompanied by a typed transcription of it, which includes the addendum "found in the secret drawer of her old Escritoire) 19th November 1955." Expected stains and foxing, else very good. Framed behind glass in an ebonized frame with minor corner damage at lower left. Not examined out of the frame. The overall framed size is 12.25" x 7.375" x .5."

The historical record is not forthcoming about either the relic collector, Hannah Maria Standford, or the Durham packet piloted by Captain Marshall. Yet one can easily imagine the two British passengers, Hannah and the sergeant's wife, striking up a conversation at sea, then finally graduating from exchanging pleasantries to exchanging keepsakes.

The 2nd Battalion of the 53rd Regiment of Foot, also known as the Shropshire Light Infantry, was assigned to St. Helena in August 1815. The regimental officers--including perhaps the sergeant mentioned here--were formally presented to the Emperor in late December 1815. By all accounts, Napoleon's relationship with the regimental officers and their spouses was extremely cordial, extending so far as dinner invitations. The 2nd Battalion of the 53rd Regiment was withdrawn from St. Helena in the summer of 1817 and later disbanded in England in October 1817.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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