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Napoleon Bonaparte LS Requesting Supplies During Siege of Toulon, Early Signature & "BP" Wax Seal, Ex-Nicholson Napoleon Collection

A superb early 1p letter signed by French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) as "Buonaparte" at center right. Written in Ollioules, France on "le 15 du 2 mois de lan 2" (also known as 15 Brumaire L'An 2 or November 15, 1793.) The bifold light blue watermarked laid paper is inscribed in the hand of Napoleon's aide-de-camp at the Siege of Toulon, Jean-Andoche Junot (1771-1813). The inner pages are blank. The integral address leaf is docketed and bears a striking wax seal bearing the initials "BP" for Bonaparte. Scattered foxing, expected paper folds, and usual weathering and minor loss to the address leaf. The third and fourth lines of the first page of the letter have a glossy surface, suggesting a possible isolated professional repair. Else near fine. Napoleon's signature is dark and assertive. 7.25" x 11." Provenance information is included and further discussed below. From the Nicholson Napoleon Collection.

This very early letter was signed by Bonaparte as "Buonaparte," with the orthography reflecting his Corsican heritage. Later on, Napoleon would sign documents with the French spelling as "Bonaparte," "Napoleon," "Napole," "Nap," or "Np."

Bonaparte was among French Republican forces besieging the coastal city of Toulon in late 1793. The ambitious 24-old-year-old was serving as Artillery Commander for French Republican forces besieging the city. The Siege of Toulon was waged between French Republicans and a combined force of French Royalists, British, Spanish, and Italian allies between August - December 1793; the city would fall to French Republicans in mid-December.

In mid-November, Napoleon issued the following directive to one "Citizen Constantin, Captain of the Allobroges Armory at La Ciodat," a city located about 30 km to the northwest of Toulon.

Translated in full:

"Olioulle [Ollioules] the 15 of 2 month of Year 2

You will have Received two Letters in response to the Diverse Demands that you would make of me. I pray you to send here, Right away, one hundred Dozen Planks of ordinary Pine.

I have Required the Municipality of Laciodat [La Ciodat] to send here two other Sawyers with their Saws. Expedite their departure Because we have a great need.

The Commander of Artillery of the army in front of Toulon


Contemporaries remarked on Napoleon's single-minded efficiency in organizing the French Republican artillery outside of Toulon; he proved extremely adept at not only requisitioning supplies, but also at constructing artillery batteries and fortifications. Napoleon was one of three commanders who undertook the daring night raid of allied fortifications on December 16th, during which he was bayonetted in the thigh. Following the victory, Napoleon's superiors--urged by well-placed friends--promoted him to head artillery forces in France's Army of Italy.


The lot comes with supporting documentation:

1. Auction materials from Dominic Winter Book Auctions (Swindon, England), including an invoice dated August 11, 2001 showing that this letter was purchased for £1,245 including buyer's premium and shipping costs to the United States.

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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