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The Emperor Up Close and Personal: Napoleon’s Toilet Kit

By Don Graves

Among the items captured by allied troops after Waterloo was Napoleon’s personal effects, including his necessaire or shaving and toiletry kit and personal utensils. In late 1815 a correspondent of the British newspaper, The Pilot, provided a list of what was contained in it. The source is Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, MU 2635, Military Scrapbook, a collection of newspaper clippings on military topics of the Napoleonic period.

Donald E. Graves


Sir. — Observing in your Paper of the 30th ult. an imperfect account of the various articles taken by the Prussians at Planchenoire, in the carriage of BONAPARTE, on the morning of the 19th June, after the memorable battle of Waterloo, the following correct list of his necessaire, which I translated from his goldsmith’s account at Paris, may be depended upon:

1 oval shaving bason one foot long
1 box for almond power,
1 ditto for soap,
1 ditto for opiat,
1 ditto for liquorice,
1 eye bath and funnel,
1 pair of tweezers for the beard,
2 tooth brushes,
12 ditto, spare ones,
9 tongue scrapers,
6 razors in mother of pearl and gold,
1 strap,
2 combs,
6 pair of scissors,
2 gimblets,
4 screw hooks for a glass,
2 steel cork-screws,
1 pair of drawing compasses,
1 measure,
1 pencil-case,
1 ink stand and sand-box,
1 penknife in mother of pearl handle,
2 large gilt bottles for Eau de Cologne,
1 ditto for Vinaigre,
1 ditto for Alcali,
1 bodkin,
1 looking glass in matted gold frame,
1 night lamp,
2 candlesticks,
1 steel to strike light set in silver gilt,
2 watch hooks in silver gilt,
1 ear picker, ditto,
1 night lamp,
2 candlesticks,
1 case for silk,
1 case for pins,
1 cut glass goblet


1 coffee pot, holding two cups full,
1 tea-pot ditto, and sugar-bason,
1 tea caddy
1 cup and two saucers in china,
1 coffee box,
1 plate, knife, fork, and spoon,
1 small pair of compasses,
1 coffee spoon,
1 steel knife,
1 silver gilt ditto,
1 silver gilt plateau,
1 cream pot

The whole in a mahogany box inlaid with brass, in a morocco case, cost 6,581 fr., English, 274£.4s.2d. This necessaire, one of the first pieces of imperial plate, was made in August, 1806, and constantly formed a part of BONAPARTE’s baggage in all his campaigns, attended him in his exile to Elba, and lastly, to the plain of Waterloo.

Bury St. Edmund’s, 2d Dec. 1815.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2006