Collector’s body parts with Provenance | Newspaper

For those of you wondering what happened to Napoleon Bonaparte’s penis, a New York Times report has the answer. Don’t worry, Napoleon’s private parts are in New Jersey.

A former collector of oddities and professor at Columbia University, Professor John Lattimer, has preserved the genitals of the French Emperor along with other collectibles and somewhat odd body parts, according to a report. his private collection. Legend has it that Napoleon’s penis was cut off by a member of the clergy who gave him the last rites, and the body part has been widely traded since the early 1800s. Over the years, famous private parts have been bought and sold by collectors and have even been exhibited in New York. With an interesting history, exhibition record, and inclusion in some well-known American private collections, Napoleon’s body parts have had a well-documented history.

There is a link with the city of Brotherly Love or Philadelphia in the history of Napoleon’s body parts. That’s right, this part of Napoleon’s body once belonged to the well-known Philadelphia bookseller and collector ASW Rosenbach, of Rosenbach Museum fame, who ardently exhibited them.

It’s surprising, but Professor John Lattimer and ASW Rosenbach weren’t the only collectors interested in the ancient body parts of famous and less famous people. In fact, Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, interestingly enough, was known for her books as well as her unusual decision to keep her husband’s dried heart in a desk drawer.

Napoleonic origin

The report on the collection of this very personal Napoleonic property made me reconsider a question that comes up frequently in my own work as an expert, and that is the question of provenance.

I have discussed provenance in the past and commented on its impact on value and generating great interest in the antiques and vintage market. Provenance, from French “to prove”, is a concept concerning the authenticity and the documented history or lineage of an object, a work of art, a collection or an antique. Provenance helps give credit to an item’s lineage and has an impact on value and interest in the market. You could say that provenance is like the summary of an object. Provenance highlights how an aging object has traveled from one collector to another and documents its importance to the public, including its appearance in museum exhibitions, famous collections, scholarly publications, etc.

Celebrity Collectibles

The first decades of the 19

The th century was a time when collectors were drawn to the objects of celebrities, monarchs and military figures. Many exhibitions are organized around objects belonging to leading figures, famous personalities, etc. These objects regularly go on tour as major exhibitions and arouse great popular interest from near and far.

Long ago, people traveled to see the body parts or possessions of historical figures as we do today. Like medieval pilgrims who used to visit Europe’s many pilgrimage churches and cathedrals to pray among the relics of Christian saints, today we regularly rush to museums to see exhibits that offer a glimpse of the past. We are encouraged by the prospect of admiring an exhibition of secular items such as the Royal Crown Jewels of Great Britain or the vast and diverse artefacts unearthed from ancient tombs of Egyptian pharaohs like that of King Tut. For my two cents, I think we should just keep doing just that and visiting these items in museums or collecting these items for our own wonder chambers and enjoying them as conversation pieces. It’s one of the best ways to preserve history and learn more about the lives of those who came before us.

High quality hair

Collectors today are not much different from our ancestors from the ancient, medieval or Victorian periods. People then and today have a healthy interest in collecting anything associated with a celebrity, including the body parts of famous people. Human hair was probably the most common collector’s body of the 1800s. The Victorians kept flowing locks or wisps of hair that were both famous and familiar, and encased the hair in jeweled lockets or foamed it in jars. glass. This has some 21st century celebrity collectibles enthusiasts wondering, how much is Brittany Spears’ hair worth? Could we put a value on George Clooney’s nail? Are Kim Kardashian’s Eyelashes Worth an eBay Listing? It’s quite possible that a spa or salon owner where a pop icon or movie star has had their hair cut and a manicure is sitting on a fortune in their trash can.

For those of you who don’t proudly have Vincent Van Gogh’s ear or Tom Thumb’s thumb displayed in your china or curio cabinet, remember that celebrity status isn’t the only key. value. No matter what antique or collector’s item, provenance remains one of the keys to establishing true market value.

Dr. Lori Verderame is the award-winning doctoral student. Antiques appraiser on History’s # 1 show, The Curse of Oak Island. Visit and or call (888) 431-1010.

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