Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
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  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860

Napoleon I Portrait Box, 1860

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Measurements: 10cm (4in) x 10cm (4in) x 3.3cm (1.25in)

Gilt copper. Rectangular form with rounded corners and relief decoration, the hinged lid inset with obverse profile head of Napoleon, inscribed ‘NAPOLEON EMPEREUR ET ROI’ inscribed ‘J.P. Droz fecit an 1809’. Velvet lined. 

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The Napoleon head designed by Jean-Pierre Droz (1746-1823) was perhaps the most skilful and certainly the most famous engraver and medallist of his day. Born in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, Droz studied in Paris and won acclaim with his fine pattern piece known as the Écu de Calonne after the French finance minister.  However he was best known for the profile head for the Napoléon coins produced across the empire and reproduced on the present box. He was employed by the prominent English manufacturer and business man, Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) to improve Boulton's coin and medal quality between 1797 and 1799. He was a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. Droz returned to France and in was appointed Keeper of the Coins and Medals at the Paris Mint, which post he held throughout the Napoleonic era. Meanwhile, he was much in demand by other governments as a consultant. He struck patterns for Spain, the United States and his native Neuchâtel among others. In French coinage, the effigy of Napoleon as engraved by him appears both on the 20 and 40 franc gold pieces from 1804 through 1814. Droz was also responsible for the pattern of the 5 francs of the "Hundred Days" in 1815.