Napoleonic Prisoner-of-War Items

Value (2013) | $2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
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GUEST:
When I was first married, my father-in-law gave it to me, and so I've had it over 50 years. And it was handed down through their generations. It was made in France by the prisoners. And it's a little sewing box. And this is actually grass that it's made out of, I think.

APPRAISER:
Well, I think it's a charming little box. It was actually made in my country-- made in England.

GUEST:
That's great.

APPRAISER:
And with it is this little note saying, "This little box was a gift to me from my uncle Daniel Constable on my sixth birthday and was made by the French prisoners in Dartmoor Prison, Devonshire, England, 1814." Now, I actually used to live very close to the prison.

GUEST:
That's great.

APPRAISER:
Thankfully not inside it, just outside the prison, which is in Devon-- Dartmoor, Devon. And the story was that the French prisoners who were captured during the Napoleonic wars, they were rather badly fed with bones, but the bones gave them the materials to make little objects which they could sell in the marketplace to buy tobacco and other food. And at the same time, they could also make straw work caskets such as this, which they would sell, I think, via the prison warders to enterprising traders in Devon. And here you've got a charming casket showing this wonderful straw work with the parquetry decoration. And in front, all the bone, which has a wheelbarrow, some bodkins, a sweet little knife and fork-- and all those would have been carved from the meat bones. Now, you've had it in the family right the way back to 1814.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Well, I surmise that when this casket came over to America from England, that perhaps at the same time, this little casket was also given. This was also made in England. It was made in Bilston in the Midlands, and it's an enamel patch box. And inside, there is a mirror, and the lady would keep her beauty spots...

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Place them on her cheek...

GUEST:
Oh, I see, okay.

APPRAISER:
And then just turn around just to make sure that the beauty spot was in place. It's in mint condition and it says "A Present from Portsmouth." And I was just romanticizing that perhaps they set sail from Portsmouth with the caskets and it's ended up here in Salt Lake City. If we add up the value of the caskets with the bone pieces, with the two pieces of Bilstonware, I think the entire set could be worth in the region of $2,000 to $3,000.

GUEST:
Wow, wonderful, good.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Hamptons Auctioneers
Godalming, England
Value Update (2013)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Event
Salt Lake City, UT (July 10, 1999)
Period
19th Century
Form
Box
Material
Bone, Enamel

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