A gold locket containing a lock of Napoleon’s hair from his time on St Helena following his defeat at Waterloo – discovered in a house due to be demolished – is set to spark international interest.
The trinket will go under the hammer at Surrey auctioneers Ewbank’s maritime and military memorabilia sale on July 30.
The locket, the back of which is inscribed “Hair of Napoleon 1st St Helena 1816”, was uncovered during a routine house clearance following the death of the occupant.
It was still in its original fitted red leather case.
A handwritten note on paper cut to fit inside the oval case reads: “Obtained by Admiral George Brine when in command of HMS Mosquito guarding Napoleon at St Helena; given by him to my mother; at her death in 1867 given by us to my brother Captain George Brine RN after whose death in 1889 it passed to his widow and at her death in 1890 it came to me”.
The auctioneer has estimated the locket’s intrinsic value to be £800-1,200, but objects linked to Napoleon Bonaparte have in the past sparked international interest and furious bidding at auction.
Auctioneer Chris Ewbank said: “We have no idea how the locket came to be in a terraced house in the Camberley area and because of the death of the occupant, we have no way of finding out, but we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the piece. Even the leather box holding the locket is authentic and of the period.
“It is embossed with the name Page Keen and Keen, Plymouth, a firm of gold and silversmiths, watch and clock makers and diamond and gem setters, established in 1811 and with premises at 17 George Street, Plymouth. Their advertising even boasts ‘By Royal Appointment’”.