This isn't just any history piece - this is the true tale of a great emperor's penis. In 1977 Napoleon Bonaparte's shriveled, severed 1.5 inch penis was sold to urologist John K. Lattimer for three thousand American dollars. It should be noted, for good measure, that Lattimer also owned a pair of Herman Göring's underwear. I would hate to think that 190 years after my death my shriveled penis would be sitting in a nice wooden box in some stranger's attic, but then again thats never really been my concern.
Described as looking like "a shriveled eel, a shriveled seahorse and a small shriveled finger" - not my penis, Napoleon's - the anatomical specimen was hesitantly removed by his surgeon Francesco Antommarch in front of seventeen witnesses a day after Napoleon's death 190 years ago today on the island of Saint Helena. Along with other relics from the French emperor's life his penis has by far had the most enduring legend. Its starts with Abbé Ange Paul Vignali, who had given the last rites to Napoleon on St. Helena, and who brought back from the island roughly forty items belonging to the emperor. Items included a lock of Napoleon's hair, his famous white breeches, his will along with other various official and non-official documents, silverware, and of course....his penis.
"...his penis has by far had the most enduring legend."
In 1916, descendants of Vignali sold his collection of Napoleonic items, including the penis, to a British rare books firm Maggs Bros which in turn sold the collection for around two thousand dollars in 1924 to Philadelphia bibliophile A.S.W. Rosenbach who had it "enshrined" in an elaborate blue morocco and velvet box. In 1927 he exhibited it, along with the other Vignali relics, in the Museum of French Art in New York. Then in 1977 John K. Lattimer bought the penis at a Parisian auction. What the future has in store for Napoleon Bonaparte's penis no one knows for sure. Just recently, Lattimer's daughter turned down one hundred thousand dollars for the emperor's member. What we do know is that Napoleon Bonaparte, whether a tyrant or great leader, his legend will live on - an icon of military power and political genius. In honor of the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte's death Wikicollectors, a community for collectors, have put together a list of the top 5 strangest items of memorabilia relating to the emperor. www.wikicollecting.org
Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre