Gilded Legacy: Exploring Napoleon Bonaparte’s Gold-Plated Pocket Pistol of 1802.

In the rich tapestry of historical artifacts, few items stand out as prominently as Napoleon Bonaparte’s pocket rifle plated in gold, a unique and opulent piece dating back to 1802.

The story begins with Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Thornton, who, in 1802, presented Napoleon Bonaparte with this exquisite pocket rifle, bearing a rather lengthy name. Thomas Thornton, the Prince of Chambord and Marquess de Pont, dedicated much of his time to pursuits such as hunting, fishing, shooting, peddling, racing, and patronizing artists. Renowned for possessing the largest shooting equipment in England, Thornton took pride in his diverse interests.


In 1794, a dispute between Thornton and some other officers in the regiment led to a court appearance and eventually his resignation. Eight years later, seeking to reclaim lost glory and during a visit to France, Thornton gifted Napoleon Bonaparte a beautifully crafted pocket rifle.

A few days later, Thornton received a letter, announcing the gracious acceptance of his gift, and all matters related to his court case were to be reconsidered.

In 2006, this remarkable pocket rifle went up for auction, fetching a price of £38,400.

Napoleon’s golden pocket rifle not only serves as a symbol of historical diplomacy and reconciliation but also reflects the ornate taste of the era. The intricate tale of this gilded firearm weaves together the lives of two notable figures, highlighting the interconnectedness of military history and personal encounters. As it changed hands over the centuries, the golden rifle stood witness to the ebb and flow of time, encapsulating an era where weapons were not just tools of war but tokens of diplomacy and artistry.

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