Napoleonic Prisoner-of-War Guillotine

  • This impressive guillotine was made by a French prisoner of war during the Napoleonic Wars
  • Exhibiting a remarkable level of detail, the model is hand-carved from mutton bone
  • Similar pieces have been found in museums, but few come close to this size and intricacy
  • Prisoner of war models such as this are among the most coveted wartime artifacts on the market
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 30-9637

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An incredible and extremely rare artifact of world history, this mutton bone model of a guillotine was created during the Napoleonic wars by a French prisoner of war. Many of the inmates at the prisoner of war camps were skilled artisans long before they were soldiers, and because of the long duration of the conflict and cost of care, their captors encouraged detainees to use their skills to create objects to be sold at civilian open markets. Because of the intricacy of these fascinating objets d'art, very few of these models have survived the test of time. Adding to the rarity of this piece is that it has moving parts, as only a scant few model carvings were ever created with such mechanical accuracy.

Standing nearly two-feet tall, this masterpiece is impeccably detailed. Twenty-seven soldiers and 24 cannons line the platforms. The soldiers have movable arms, while the guillotine features a movable "blade." The catch bucket below the mechanism even includes the tiny removable head of the guillotine's unfortunate victim.

By many accounts, Napoleonic prisoners of war were confined to mostly makeshift prisons in old castles, naval dockyards and purpose built camps. Though treated fairly well, prisoners were typically kept in rather dark conditions and were not allowed to have objects that could be used as weapons, including tools. That means inmates would have had to create these amazing models using handmade tools using scraps of whatever was available, including shards of glass for carving; an activity that was most likely done by candlelight. With this perspective, the precision and intricacy of this model becomes even more incredible.  

Circa 1810

5 1/4" wide x 12 1/2" deep x 20" high
Napoleonic Prisoner-of-War Guillotine
Period: 19th Century
Origin: France
Type: Figurines/Statuettes
Depth: 12.5 Inches
Width: 5.25 Inches
Height: 20.0 Inches

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