Napoleon's sword glitters at auction

9 June 2007

THE last of Napoleon's swords in private hands has been sold for 4.8 million euros ($A7.6 million) at an auction south of Paris, more than three times its estimate.

Napoleon carried the sword at Marengo in June 1800, where his troops pushed the Austrian army from much of Italy.

The gold-encrusted, gently curved blade was based on an inspiration Napoleon drew from his Egyptian campaign.

"He noticed that the Arab swords, which were curved, were very effective in cutting off French heads" and ordered an imitation made upon his return, the auctioneer, Jean-Pierre Osenat, said.

After the battle at Marengo, Napoleon gave the sword to his brother Jerome, and it has never left the family until now. It was declared a national treasure in 1978.

The unidentified buyer must have an address in France and keep the sword in the country for five to six months a year.

"It symbolizes more than anything else the power, the force and the incontestable strength of the Emperor Napoleon," Osenat said as he handled the sword. He wore white gloves to protect its steel and gold surfaces.

This article can be found online at The Age - Tuesday, 12 June 2007.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.