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Lock of Napoleon's hair to go under auction hammer

Tuesday 29 Jun 2010 10:45 a.m.

Phone bidders from around the world are expected to take part in an auction of rare Napoleonic memorabilia in Auckland tonight.

The collection, which includes a lock of hair cut off French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte the day after he died in 1821, was expected to bring between $150,000 and $300,000, said Hamish Coney from the Auckland auction house Art+Object.

He said about six overseas bidders had registered to make telephone bids at the auction which has attracted global attention.

The collection had never been seen in public before and had been held for 200 years by descendants of Denzil Ibbetson, the commissionary officer on the island of St Helena during Napoleon's incarceration and death.

As well as a lock of his hair the 40 items in the collection include various images of Napoleon on his deathbed, and Ibbetson's personal diary.

The collection was brought to New Zealand by Ibbetson's first son, Frederick, in 1864 and passed through three subsequent generations until the last member of its male line died several years ago.

It is being sold by the man's widow.


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