University Archives


Napoleon's Waterloo Carriage Relic, Ex-Nicholson Napoleon Collection

A relic from the carriage of French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), abandoned on June 18, 1815 following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Provenance information is included and further discussed below. From the Nicholson Napoleon Collection.

The relic is comprised of a piece of the carriage "assist strap" or "assist cord," an oblong fragment of thickly woven gold and cobalt blue velvet. It is mounted on a card inscribed: "The lower extremity of the strap of the front carriage window of the coach in which Napoleon rode at Waterloo and which had been much used by him. London, May 28th 1851." Above the swatch, the same hand has written "(torn off here)." Expected wear including several loose threads. The card shows the usual toning and light soiling, else very good. The swatch measures 1.75" x .875" while the mount measures 4.125" x 3.125."

Napoleon abandoned his carriage on the night of June 18, 1815 following his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. British firsthand accounts of the recovery of the carriage give us an extremely detailed description of its appearance and contents. (See attached drawing of Napoleon's Military Carriage, ca. 1811.) The dark blue exterior was trimmed in gold, and the doors were emblazoned with the imperial arms. Inside, the lavishly appointed coach was still stocked with bedding, dishware, writing materials, military equipment, clothing, jewels, and money.

Napoleon's carriage was custom designed for speed, versatility, and commodiousness. It needed to transport the Emperor across Europe with incredible speed. The cabin could be removed from its wheels and mounted on sleigh runners. It served at once as "an office, a bed room, a dressing room, a kitchen and an eating room." The carriage was shipped to England and presented to the Prince Regent George IV as a war trophy. It was destroyed by fire in 1925.


A New Hampshire Boy Scout named Kenneth R. Maloon, Sr. (1912-1986) was awarded a piece of Napoleon's Waterloo carriage after winning 1st Prize in the Fisher Body Craftsmen's Guild Coach competition, an annual contest hosted by General Motors Company during the 1930s-1960s. The lot comes with supporting documentation including:

1. A card inscribed "Peice [sic] of strap of coach Napoleon used at Waterloo," initialed "G.M.F." in the lower left corner.

2. A press bulletin dated January 25, 1932 entitled "Kenneth Maloon to Receive Relic."

In part: "'It is my pleasure to be in possession of a piece of the upholstery of Napoleon's State Coach, a piece of the 'Assist Cord'…and some day I hope to present this treasure to the nearby Scout who so faithfully reproduced this Napoleonic Coach…"

3. A signed and notarized Letter of Authenticity dated November 16, 2001, written by Kenneth Maloon, Jr., the son of Kenneth R. Maloon, Sr.

In part: "The following describes the details of how My Father, the late deceased Kenneth R. Maloon Sr., entered the Fisher Body Craftsmen's Guild Napoleonic Coach Competition, of Detroit Michigan in 1931 and how he was able to obtain the Original Section of the Napoleonic Waterloo Carriage 'Assist Strap'…As a result of his thorough research and craftsmanship, he won 1st Prize from other contestants and was presented an original section of the 'Assist Strap' of the Coach Used by Napoleon During the Waterloo Campaign from Mr. Everett B. Rich, then leader of the N.H. Rotary Club. Mr. Rich had received the strap from the ex-District Governor from that district in the state of N.H, the late Mr. Tony Parshley."

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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