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Geneanet Community Helps Auction House Identify Napoléon’s Missing Waistcoat Button

Posted by Sean Daly on Apr 1, 2024
Napoléon annoyed after his waistcoat button came loose

The Hôtel Grout auction house in Paris, assisted by volunteers at Geneanet, has confirmed an old waistcoat button found in their laundry room belonged to the Emperor himself – and explains his repeated wardrobe malfunctions!

Paris-based auction house Hôtel Grout recently found an old waistcoat button in their laundry room – and with the help of Geneanet volunteers, it has been definitively identified as Napoléon I’s missing button from his favourite waistcoat!

In a press release dated April 1, Grout’s Couvre-Chef & Blanchisserie expert, Adelaïde de Champignon-Lautrec, explains: “The Emperor’s button probably started coming loose when he was busy galloping about during one of his many battles around Europe. He likely placed it in his pocket and forgot about it. But from then on, he stuck his hand into his waistcoat to avoid winter’s frissons, or when posing for painters.”

Volunteers at Geneanet, experienced in transcribing early 19th century handwriting, have often seen archival documents mentioning Napoléon’s wardrobe malfunction and his subsequent obsession with his waistcoat midriff. “This has to be the missing button,” Mme de Champignon-Lautrec continued, “as in that era, women had to sew buttons back on immediately since their clothes had no pockets.

In related news, Maison Grout has revealed that the Emperor’s bicorne chapeau which was recently auctioned for 1.9 million roros was in fact a tricorne, with the third point hidden in the back where no one could see it except Napoléon’s marshals.

From Geneanet’s fabulous Postcards collection!

Did you enjoy our April Fool’s Day article? if you did (or even if you didn’t), view our real resources about Napoléon in this article:

  • Napoléon’s soldiers: an ongoing collaborative project with Geneanet volunteers indexing the detailed military muster rolls of the Grande Armée. Over 1.1 million men and their parents indexed!
  • Napoléon’s genealogy: on Geneastar, our project documenting the family trees of famous and influential people.
  • Napoléon Monuments: hundreds of images of statues and plaques. And the list of every general cited on the Arc de Triomphe!
  • Napoléon postcards: Like the one above; photos, portraits, bridges and streets, humor!
  • The Saint Helena Medals: Coming soon, a new collection featuring over 200,000 of Napoléon’s soldiers alive in 1857!

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