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Napoleon's hat expected to fetch 500,000 euros at auction

An undated handout picture provided by Osenat auction house on 20 October 2014 shows the hat of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Image copyright EPA

One of Napoleon Bonaparte's famous hats is among over 1,000 items relating to the French general that are due to be auctioned near Paris this weekend.

The collection belongs to the royal family of Monaco, which is selling the items as part of the restoration of their palace.

The hat has not been worn since it was given as a gift to Napoleon's veterinarian.

Image copyright AP

Napoleon was renowned for his bicorne hats, so-called because they had two points. Some 19 of his hats have survived. This bicorne, said to have been worn at the Battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800, is part of a collection assembled by Louis II of Monaco, described by his great-grandson Prince Albert as a great admirer of Napoleon.

Image copyright AFP

A diamond-encrusted sword is part of the collection that the House of Grimaldi is selling in order to make space for a museum dedicated to Princess Grace, Albert's mother who died in 1982. The value of such a piece is unknown, but a gold sword sold in 2007 for 4.8m euros.

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Another item is a damaged bronze flag eagle. Other exhibits are estimated to be worth only a few thousand euros, such as a rare scarf worn by the emperor, or a bronze bust. They have been on show next to the Palace of Fontainebleau, where Napoleon lived.

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Two letters, handwritten by Napoleon himself, are also included. Art expert Jean-Claude Dey who sifted through the collection over the past 13 years, said all the items were "moving mementoes of the First Empire, mementoes of Napoleon, his close relations and friends, his marshals and generals".

Image copyright Reuters

Stockings and slippers belonging to Napoleon's son, Napoleon II, who was known as the Roi de Rome, are also up for auction. Other clothing is listed, such as a white shirt worn by Napoleon while in exile on St Helena and presented to a general who accompanied him to the remote South Atlantic island after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Image copyright AFP

Many of the delicate items are extraordinarily well preserved, such as these slippers, also belonging to Napoleon II. Sentimental items are also part of the collection, such as an embroidered purse that belonged to Josephine, valued at 2,000 euros. Although many of the items will be bought up by private collectors and museums, some pieces such as gunpowder flasks could be snapped up by the general public.

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