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A Relic From The Field of Waterloo - An Imperial Guard Cartridge Box Eagle Badge, 1815
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A Relic From The Field of Waterloo - An Imperial Guard Cartridge Box Eagle Badge, 1815

Measurements: Height: 9.2cm

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Bronze. Battle damaged Imperial eagle cartridge box badge of the Imperial Guard.
 
The present relic is a testament to Waterloo as both the site of Napoleon’s downfall and as one of Europe’s first modern tourist destinations. A notable lawyer James Simpson, visited the field just a few weeks after the battle and observed, ‘All about lay the melancholy remains of the clothes, accoutrements, books, and letters of the dead. The two last, after the interment, were spread over the field, like the rubbish of a stationer’s shop’. After the bodies were buried or burnt and clothing stripped by impoverished locals, the less perishable souvenirs remained, these being of of lead, brass, bronze and rusted iron. Lord Byron, an ardent admirer of Napoleon, made his pilgrimage in May 1816 and wrote his name in the visitor’s book in Hougoumont’s chapel. Despite his contempt for the victors, Byron was unable to resist purchasing his own battlefield souvenirs, which were sent to his publisher John Murray in London for safekeeping. J.M.W. Turner painted scenes of the area in August 1817, and over time a steady trail of curious tourists resulted in a cluster of hotels and hostelries.
 
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