[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Napoleon's wallpaper sold at auction
The scrap of wallpaper
Other similar items have fetched as much as 3,000
A tiny scrap of wallpaper thought to be from the bedroom Napoleon used while he was imprisoned by the British has been sold for 1,250 at auction.

The three-inch souvenir from the time the French emperor was held on the South Atlantic island of St Helena was auctioned at a sale of historic documents in Ludlow, Shropshire, on Thursday.

The item is considered special because it is believed to be among the only surviving fragments from Napoleon's bedroom.

Auctioneer and document expert Richard Westwood-Brookes said the small scrap was sold over the telephone to an "institution with an interest in wallpaper".

Poison theory

Other pieces of wallpaper from different rooms in his island jail have fetched as much as 3,000.

Forensic analysis of the scrap of wallpaper might also help unlock the mystery of what caused Napoleon's death.

Some experts believe the emperor was poisoned by arsenic used in colouring the wallpaper, after a study of a strand of his hair found eight times the normal amount of the chemical in it.

But Mr Westwood-Brookes said an examination of the wallpaper might help to disprove the idea the emperor was poisoned in this way.

"We know that Napoleon spent most of his time in his bedroom while at Longwood, the house on St Helena, so if this wallpaper turns out to have little or no arsenic in it, then it suggests this theory doesn't really hold water."


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific