Sunday, 5 February 2012

Empire Made

My latest chance-find acquisition - Napoleon Bonaparte pretending to be a 2 inch Caesar, made out of cast iron (and no, John, you can't have it, no matter how good it would look on your mantle-shelf).

The little bust was found at a flea market last week, and I think it must have been discovered by a metal-detector because it was caked in old mud when I bought it. I gave it a clean, then re-patinated it with a special solution which turns Damascus gun-barrels brown (I knew it would come in handy one day), before giving it a light wax and buffing it with a fine, stainless steel brush. Handsome, eh?

I turned the little stone base on my lathe at the workshop (yes, you can turn stone - you can even chop it with an axe - I have many old stone-axes which I have used for carving a lot), and mounted the head on it.

The stone comes from Ham Hill, near Yeovil, Somerset, and is always this rich, rusty brown. This is a particularly fine-grained version - some of it is extremely coarse, with great mud-beds running through it.

There are two quarries at Ham Hill, both named after the owners. One is Harvey's (where this stone comes from) and the other is Richard England's. Richard England is now quite old, but when I dealt with him a lot, he was busy popping over to the USA because he was building a house for Clint Eastwood - made entirely out of Ham Hill stone!

Mr Harvey's claim to fame is that his daughter is the famous British musician, P.J. Harvey, and the hill's claim to fame is that it is the site of an extremely unusual and complex set of pre-historic dwellings. This means that - although there is plenty of stone to go around - the quarries and the archaeologists tread a finely balanced path when it comes to each other's interests. There have been quarries there since medieval times, and the whole of nearby Sherborne is made either of Ham Hill, or Sherborne stone itself. It is surprising how small a hole is left after enough stone has been pulled out to build a few towns, though.

Napoleon - having declared himself Emperor - was often depicted as a Caesar. I suppose that - having killed the entire royal family to form a republic - they would hardly depict him as a king, but even so, it does show more than a madman's sense of grandeur to call yourself 'Emperor', let alone 'Napoleon'.

Actually, you can have it, John, but this time it's going to cost you.


23 comments:

  1. swap him for a sausage!

    seconds thoughts I will send you some in the post as I will to chris!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope neither of those are euphemisms, John...

      Delete
    2. many have requested
      few have been chosen

      Delete
    3. ... some have been slaughtered in the attempt...

      Delete
  2. Do I smell some favoritism? You and Chris will get some sausages while the rest of us are left hanging with an empty plate sporting only a dollop of mustard!

    Nice find, though, at the fleamarket. I'm still waiting to find that "one in a million treasure" that everybody else has overlooked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's only got about 85 kilos, Iris, so spare a thought.

      Delete
  3. I really love that little Napoleon and, the stone base that you fashioned is perfect for him. Handsome indeed. Will you be putting him on Ebay Tom ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's already there, Jack@ (another way to find the 'reaL' me), and after 24 hours, he has 35 watchers and 4 bids on a 7 day listing. I might make a few quid this time - makes a change...

      Delete
  4. The things you can find with a metal detector!

    I'm off to buy one now.

    I'll put in a pre-order Tom for half a dozen Ham-Hill stone plinths for;

    6x rusty Foster's cans
    1x 8 metre rusty chain
    1x 50 pence piece (bent!?)
    1x mud encrusted plough blade

    (All of which I've already dug up on my allotment).

    I didn't realise JG wanted sexual favours for the chops. He just asked me if I wanted his meat. I mean, if I wanted any of his pork.

    Oh dear...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He wants to play a game of 'hide the sausage' with you Chris - I'm convinced.

      Delete
    2. The price of pork these days!!

      You're getting the sausage Tom! ;-)

      Delete
    3. And I always thought that it was sheep that Taffies were interested in - ram sausage?

      Delete
    4. you heteros are just sooooooooooooo funny!!!!!

      Delete
  5. I love it. Amazing finds with metal detectors these days. All we have found is an old fob watch chain and medallion - very pretty and silver around 1846 - but we live in hope.
    PS Let John have it - he needs a bit of cheering up after the piggy episode.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Derek Bentley got hanged in the 1950s for using just that turn of phrase, Weaver - careful what you say!

      Delete
  6. Tom, What a beauty. You have turned it into a treasure. Great job Tom. Smiles to you,Susie

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the stone base is a perfect partner for the little bust. I looked for it on e-bay but couldn't track it down. (I don't think you should give it to John)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's there, Sue - now gone up to £10 something, with 5 days to go.

      Delete
  8. I've got a similar small Napoleon over here; I call it Sarkosy! (well, someone had to say it)

    ReplyDelete