Cover The unique gold sword was commissioned by Napoleon's eldest brother (Photo: Bonhams)

A gold sword made for Napoleon Bonaparte’s eldest brother, Joseph, will appear at a Bonhams auction later today

A unique gold sword commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte's eldest brother, Joseph, is going under the hammer in London later today.

Joseph was King of Naples and the Two Sicilies when the sabre was made by the Royal Arms Manufactory of the Torre Annunziata between 1806 to 1808.

Inscribed on both sides with the words "VIVA IL RE GIUSEPPE NAPOLEONE", which means "Long Live King Joseph Napoleon", the blade is one of only two inscribed in this manner. The other, made for Napoleon himself, is on display at the Museo Ejército (Army Museum) in Toledo, Spain.

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Bonhams will auction Joseph's weapon at its Napoleon Bonaparte: The British Sale auction, and hopes to exceed the blade's estimated value of US$340,000––US$480,000.

Simon Cottle, Bonhams' head of sale, said: "Joseph was Napoleon’s most trusted and loyal family member and a lawyer and diplomat of great standing. This magnificent imperial sabre with its proud inscription exemplifies the respect held for Joseph within Napoleon Bonaparte’s close family circle.

"The sword is being offered for sale for the first time. This is a very rare opportunity to acquire a piece which is not only historically important but, in its craftsmanship and astonishing level of detailed decoration, also a work of art in its own right.”

Joseph became the King of Spain in 1808 but abdicated after suffering a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813, which ended French rule in Spain. His sword was seized by the British, led by the Marquis of Wellesley, who would later become the Duke of Wellington.


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