Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001 13:49:09 -0500
From: Joel Wachs <email address withheld>
To: "''"
Subject: Two recent references

Did you hear or see two recent articles in major publications that mentioned Napoleon's "tendon"?

One was in the December 17th issue of The New Yorker. This article by Calvin Trillin, the humorist, was about Conrad Black, the Canadian, now British, media baron (as you have a Canadian e-mail address, I am guessing that you are quite familiar with Mr. Black). Supposedly Mr. Black is obsessed with Napoleon. Trillin writes, "[Black's] reputation for both acquisitiveness and devotion to great historical figures has been such that his assistant in London once had to state formally, in response to press inquiries, 'The proprietor of the Daily Telegraph would like to go on the record to say that he does certainly not own Napoleon's penis.'"

I thought that this was outrageous and obviously part of some modern myth.

However, three days later, my copy of the January 2002 Harper's arrived on my doorstep with an article by Guy Lesser about A.S.W. Rosenbach, the rare-book dealer. In the article, Lesser writes, "Rosenbach evidently had been fond of showing?off [his collection of Napoleon relics] to his most favored clients, apparently as a piquant if macabre high point to a convivial evening of book talk. Acquired in the mid-1920s, from the Vignali family of Naples, the descendants of Napoleon's chaplain and last confessor on St. Helena (through the agency of the venerable firm of antiquarian-book dealers, Maggs Brothers, Berkeley Square, London), the relics included hair, cutlery, clothes, and, as the piece de resistance, so to speak, a short length of dried leather, kept by Rosenbach in a small blue morocco box--and delicately referred to, in his day, as 'Napoleon's tendon.'?'the thing' had been quietly sold by Rosenbach in the mid-1940s?"

This was a bit too much of a coincidence: two articles in two different major publications mentioning this. I had to find out if it was true. Hence a quick search on the Web and the discovery of your page.