PICTURE/INFO. REVISIONS WITH THIS ARTIFACT ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS
This is a fourth generation owned antique. I acquired it from a California collector who had purchased it from a museum in San Francisco. It had been donated to the museum in the late 19th Century as an artifact owned by Louis H. Mailliard and, or his wife Angelic by a relative of Mailliard. Mailliard was the first secretary, confidant, and special agent to Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte (1768 to 1844), King of Naples (1806 to 1808), King of Spain (1808 to 1813), and Emperor of the French as the Bonapartist pretender (1832 to 1844). In 1817 after Mailliard had successfully returned from a secret mission J. Bonaparte wrote among other praises that he considered Mailliard his right hand. The secret mission was that Mailliard had orchestrated and carried out the hiding, recovery, and return of J. Bonaparte's treasure.
It is a gold plated silver locket which contains encased in glass a daguerreotype of J. Bonaparte. Including the necklace ring, the locket is 3 cm in length. The entire locket including the glass has miniature art and inscriptions on it, most notable are two references to the legend of the Jersey Devil, a reference to J. Bonaparte's treasure, a possible reference to Lord Cochrane, and a possible reference to Napoleon's gold.* It is the only photo image known of Jospeh Bonaparte and one of only a few photo images of the of the original Imperial House of Bonaparte, it is the only daguerreotype. The only other examples are a handful of extremely rare ambrotypes or parlor card images of Jerome Bonaparte (1784 to 1860, Napoleon's youngest brother). At the time this daguerreotype was taken Joseph Bonaparte was the pretender to the French Imperial throne. The locket, the glass, and the back of the daguerreotype have miniature art and inscriptions. Most prominent are those of the famed legend of the Jersey Devil.
With the locket there were also three other jewelry artifacts from the same group. The group has importance relating to the history of the following countries; America, Chile, England, France, Haiti, Mexico, and all of South America. Due to the historical importance of the miniature art/inscriptions on these they were given titles, they are the following three jewelry pieces:
THE MINA GAUDALOPE: It is a 20 to 23 K gold Our Lady of Guadeloupe pendant of a Mexican Indian Guadeloupe with a Spanish Guadeloupe's crown, it is 3 cm in length. The pendant appears to had been a "gift" from General Francis Xavier Mina (Sp. Francisco Javier Mina) to Joseph Bonaparte and may have even symbolized the alleged promise by Mina of the Mexican Imperial crown. Among many other things it has symbolic iconography of the three initial ships of the Mina Expedition; the schooner's Caladonia and Calypso, and the Brig the Dolphin.
THE LORD COCHRANE NAPOLEON. It is a 14 K gold, silver, and niello pendant of Napoleon I, it is 2.8 cm in length. The miniature art/inscriptions on it are of a never realized expedition to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena to Haiti and then South America to be led by Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald. The pendant appears to have been a "gift" from Cochrane or Lord Holland (that likely was delivered by an agent) to Joseph Bonaparte, but yet it also "may" have been a "gift" from Paulina Bonaparte.
NAPOLEON'S IRON FIST. It is a 9 to 10 K gold watch key holder, it is 2.1 cm in length The theme with the miniature art/inscriptions is once again of Napoleon's planned rescue from St. Helena.
If you would like to view pictures and more information on the Mina Guadeloupe, the Lord Cochran Napoleon, and Napoleon's Iron Fist go here and scroll down : Click Here.
* The Jersey Devil (aka JD) is the most popular legend in New Jersey, enough so that in 1938 the state of New Jersey officially declared it the state's demon, it is the only state demon in America. There are many versions of the legend, but summarizing the most popular version; A woman named Mother Leeds (who in some versions was a witch married to the devil) was frustrated after having 12 children, so when pregnant with her 13th she cursed the child as to give it to the devil, or to be a devil. The child was born normal (or some say misshapen) on a stormy night in 1735, at some point the child turned into a demon, then flew out the chimney to inhabit the vast Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. There are various descriptions of JD but the most popular version states that it has a horse-like head, bird or hoofed feet, bat-type wings, and a tail. There have been many alleged sightings over the years by various people of different stations, but the two most famous are Commodore Stephen Decatur and Joseph Bonaparte. It is claimed that J. Bonaparte had an encounter with JD while hunting near his estate as Point Breeze, NJ. According to an inscription on the back of the daguerreotype the year was 1820. As several other artifacts including this one suggests that J. Bonaparte had been involved in espionage at that time to free his younger brother Napoleon from captivity on St. Helena, then there are hints that the story of his sighting of JD "may" have also had (or just plain had) something to do with the famed Scotsman Lord Cochrane aka "Cochrane the Devil" who was rumored by his wife to be planning to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena C. 1820 (Napoleon died in 1821). If so then this may or may not have had something to do with Decatur's sighting of the JD and sending a message to any Bonapartists in the Western hemisphere. This speculation does entirely not rule out that J. Bonaparte may have had an encounter with "something' unknown in 1820, but that he may have decided that it was also a convince with his espionage activities. Do I believe that there is any such thing as the JD as usually described, no! Do I believe that it is possible that "something" has transpired over the years in the Pine Barrens that may have a scientific explanation (that we may or may not be able to fully understand), yes! To my knowledge the two depictions seen on this artifact (C. 1840 to 1844) are the earliest known representations of the JD. So far my research shows that the next image known is a rather famed illustration from an eye witness account in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin in 1909. More info. with this artifact is that there is also suggestion of Paulina Bonaparte (the youngest of the original Imperial Bonaparte's) as a secret agent in Rome, J. Bonaparte's treasure, J. Bonaparte's summer estate in NY at Lake Diana (now known as Lake Bonaparte), and possibly Napoleon's gold.
Copyright 2007 David Xavier Kenney
Revised Feb 2011
The locket daguerreotype of Joseph Bonaparte was further authenticated in 2009 by a a photograph expert in London for a major auction house.
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