Napoleon's hat breaks record at auction

Written by Jeppe W

Nov.20 - 2023 11:01 AM CET


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Napoleon Bonaparte's iconic hat, a symbol of his remarkable leadership and distinct style, has been auctioned off for an impressive 1.9 million euros in Paris, reports The Guardian.

'This exceptional piece of history is a black, two-horned hat crafted from beaver fur, notable for its durability and quality. Remarkably, it is one of only 20 such headdresses of the French Emperor still in existence today.

Initially, the Drouot auction house estimated the hat's value between 600,000 and 800,000 euros, but the final bid far exceeded these expectations, reaching 1.932 million euros. This sale sets a new record, surpassing the previous highest auction price for a Napoleon hat which was 1.884 million euros.

Napoleon's choice of wearing his hat sideways was a strategic move to ensure his visibility on the battlefield, with the points parallel to his shoulders.

This particular hat, distinguished by its unique cockade – a uniform sign, has a special connection to Napoleon's history. Pierre Aucénet of the Drouot auction house revealed that Napoleon himself added these cockades in 1818 during his journey across the Mediterranean to Antibes from his exile on the island of Elba.

The hat symbolized more than just a fashion statement; it was a part of Napoleon's persona. "In private life, he carried it either on his head or in his hand, sometimes throwing it to the ground. It was the emperor's calling card," stated the Senate before the auction.

For the past century, this historic artifact remained in the possession of the descendants of French official Jean-Louis Noisier. Until recently, it was a part of the collection of industrialist Pierre Bayon, who passed away last year.

Out of the existing Napoleon hats, five are held in private collections, while the others are displayed in museums. This sale not only highlights the enduring fascination with Napoleon but also the value placed on historical artifacts that offer a tangible connection to the past.

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