Chinese Carved Ivory Card Case of Napoleon’s House and Tomb


A rare 19th century carved ivory visiting card case with verdant tropical scenes and inscribed Napoleon’s House and Napoleon’s Tomb verso. Napoleon was buried in Geranium Valley, St Helena beneath willow trees, as shown.

China, Canton, circa 1821 – 50

Height 4.2in 10.5 cm
Width 2.5in 6.5 cm
Depth .75in 2 cm

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19th century trade with China and the Orient facilitated the production of ivory visiting card cases. Popular in England and Europe, the trade continued throughout at varying levels of quality.

Some of the finer boxes with more unusual decoration can now change hands for thousands of pounds.

This card case is decorated in a western manner shows Napoleon’s exile house in tropical St. Helena.

Verso is inscribed Napoleon’s Tomb where he was buried for 19 years before being exhumed and moved to Paris.

On May 9 1821,  following a mass and a service for the dead, Napoleon was buried in the requested spot – Geranium Valley – at the foot of some willows, near a spring of cool water. The grave, approximately 10 feet deep, was lined with brick. Inside was a tomb made of slabs of stone. After Napoleon’s casket was lowered by means of pulleys, the tomb was sealed with another enormous stone. This was topped with bricks, cement, clay and more stones. There Napoleon’s body remained for 19 years.

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