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Napoleon signature in 1803 book about himself?

In Books > Autographed Books > Show & Tell and Politics > Political Autographs > Show & Tell.
Autographed Books46 of 79Book,"The End of the Game", signed, with design, by photographer/writer Peter BeardEdgar Allen Poe Complete Works in 8 Volumes - Signed by Charles B Gatewood
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    Posted 12 years ago

    (4 items)

    Here's a mystery item which I haven't been able to verify. The book is "Life of Buonaparte" by Sarratt printed 1803 or soon thereafter. What is in question here is the signature by "Buonaparte" underneath the portrait frontispiece. Yes I know that it was common practice to put facsimile signatures under portraits, but somehow I'm not so sure about this one.

    Points that favor a real signature:
    - The 3rd image shows a scanned copy found at Google Books and it lacks a signature.
    - Another book by the same publisher - a biography of Nelson - printed about the same time also has a frontispiece portrait without a signature (can also be found on Google Books).
    - The signature is not centered as the typical facsimiles were.
    - It doesn't even have the same "sharpness" as other facsimiles have. Compare with my other book listed "Works by Akenside".

    What speaks against:
    - The scanned Google copy is a first edition, while my copy states "2nd edition" on title page. However, everything else is identical to the letter and I believe it was printed not long after the 1st (possibly the same year).

    So if the signature is real and not facsimile, is it really Napoleons? Well, by looking at examples out there it does look pretty close. I cannot be sure though, since only a professional would be able to investigate it properly.

    I don't quite expect any experts to solve this here by just looking at this page, but any info, advice or comments are most welcome.

    Even if the signature is fake the book is still pretty neat and unusual as it was British anti-propaganda aimed at Napoleon to depict him as evil. Probably one of the earliest biographies of him too.

    Unsolved Mystery

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    1. stefdesign stefdesign, 12 years ago
      This is pretty amazing... I have no ideas, or advice about your book, but I commend you for a few things: 1. You did your homework. It looks like you've really taken the time to explore several possibilities. 2. You are looking at both sides, which is a breath of fresh air. So many people are so determined that their treasure is rare and valuable, even when they are not, they just can't see another point of view. 3. You don't expect the folks here at CW to necessarily solve your mystery for you.

      The book looks awesome, and I'm sure it's authentically old, but of course, it's really the signature that is the important thing. So, as you mentioned, it's probably best to find an historian that can authenticate it for you. I wish I could help, this is a delightful mystery! Good luck!
    2. USACollect, 12 years ago
      The only thing I could recommend is to have it authenticated by a company such as PSA DNA.
    3. ulfsurfer, 12 years ago
      Thanks for all your comments, links & love.

      One thing that a historian could answer is: how would Napoleon manage to get hold on English books? France was continuously at war with Great Britain at this time, so those must have been smuggled across the channel.

      Generally you find Napoleon signatures on documents such as orders or letters, but I did once see a TV show about antique auctions where an autographed hand held portrait of Napoleon was featured. My wishful thinking is that he would have seen the portrait in this book too and wanted to sign it, regardless the nasty contents.

      Ultimately I think I do have to take it to an autograph expert, but I have trusting issues with those. It's a dubious market with lots of cheating involved and I couldn't emphasize enough that people should be careful in trusting these "experts". I did submit an electronic query to one of these big companies for like 10 or 15 bucks, and it only took about 10 minutes to get a "probably fake" reply. I don't think the person on the other end bothered to do any actual work.
    4. stefdesign stefdesign, 12 years ago
      Those are excellent points, both of you. I've never used an appraiser before but perhaps there is another source that could get you closer to an answer, like a university historian. Pray for Antiques Roadsow to come to your town. (is that show still on? ) LOL.
    5. Benking, 12 years ago
      Wow, needed are specialists, many?

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