Archive for August, 2009

Straight from the back of a camel?

August 17th, 2009 | posted by Bill Rau

One of my true pleasures is being able to buy a piece that I have only ever seen in a museum. In our last shipment, we had on it maybe the “ugliest” antique I’ve bought in years, and it excited me more than any of the gorgeous objects that came with it. This camel saddle, made in 1799 for Napoleon’s troops during the Egyptian campaign, is one of three that we know of in the world (the other two are in the Musee d’Arms in Paris). Measuring a very impressive ” and made for a double hump camel, this unique saddle was part of the war that literally changed how we view the world.

This mixture of cultures brought us our first modern understanding of Egyptian life in the time of the Pharaohs thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta stone which became instrumental to our modern understanding of hieroglyphics. It was, in fact, the closest the east and west had come sine the 1490s. This was the time when one of Napoleon’s troops (perhaps the one that sat on this saddle!) shot off the nose of the Sphinx with a cannon. It is interesting to note that Napoleon actually lost this battle but because he made it back to France before anyone else, he proclaimed himself the victor.¬† This “victory” eventually helped propel Napoleon to becoming emperor.

The saddle itself was beautifully hand made for an officer and is still in superior condition. It is a great slice of history and my favorite object that arrived in our shipment. Now, I just need to find a double-hump camel…

Bill