It rarely happens that a person’s penis travels more than the person. Napoleon Bonaparte is one of these cases.
The year is 1821 and the place is Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. According to Napoleon’s doctor Antommarchi, Bonaparte died of stomach cancer just like his father.
There is still a debate on the actual cause of his death, but that’s a topic for another day.
Antommarchi removed Bonaparte’s liver and intestines and dropped them into an ethyl alcohol jar for autopsy. He also took Napoleon’s penis during the autopsy and hid it.
Thus begins the journey. The penis was delivered to Napoleon’s priest, Abbé Ange Vignali, who smuggled it to Corsica, Napoleon’s birthplace. When the priest died, the penis was inherited by his family until 1916.
The relic went to his sister and then to his son, Charles-Marie Gianettini. Gianettini tried to sell the relic as a “mummified tendon taken from Napoleon’s body during the autopsy. “
A British collector Maggs Bros bought the penis from Gianettini in 1916.
Maggs sold it to legendary American antiquarian bookseller Dr. Rosenbach of Philadelphia for £ 400, around $ 2000, in 1924.
Dr. Rosenbach, an eccentric American collector, has shown proud possession of it at parties and gatherings. He also loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a very short time. The museum displayed it on a small velvet cushion.
23 years later, the penis was sold by Dr. Rosenbach to collector Donald Hyde. After Hyde’s death, his widow sold her penis to Dr. Rosenbach’s successor, John Fleming.
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