Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Napoleon and Joséphine, A Love Story

Napoleon Bonaparte and Joséphine de Beauharnais 

~ One of the Greatest Love Stories in History ~

Vintage Postcard, dated 1908

Napoleon and Josephine were married March 9, 1796.

It's no secret that Paris has long been my favorite 

destination, and over the years I've collected 

my fair share of Napoleonic memorabilia. 

Kathryn Crisp Greeley's new book, 


advocates using one's collections to set a special table.

I decided to do just that when I selected 

Napoleonic Memorabilia 

as my topic for a CAMEO meeting.

I'm passing along this tip for 

Tutorials, Tips, and Tidbits @ Stone Gable.

When you host your next dinner party, gather up a collection 

to use as a theme.  I found it fun to see my pieces grouped 

together, and your collection will no doubt spark conversation.

Those of you who follow HFTS might remember the post I shared here about CAMEO, a small antique club of which I'm a member.  

Collecting Antiques and Memorabilia 
and Educating Ourselves

The structure of our small group is such that each member is responsible for presenting or arranging a presentation on a topic of interest to share with the group at one of our monthly meetings.  

~ Collecting Napoleonic Memorabilia ~

My topic of choice last spring.

Napoleon's famous N and bee motif 

show up in many of these pieces.

The pottery pieces you see in the photos 

are mostly French faience produced in the 

last part of the 19th century or the first half of the 20th century.

Small Bust of Napoleon, CA 
Dinner Plate, HenRiot Quimper
Teapot part of Garden Buddies Tea Service, unmarked

Napoleon Ivy ~ As Used By Napoleon At St. Helena ~ 1815
Wedgwood Etruria England

I only have but one demi-tasse cup and saucer in this lovely pattern, though I long to add more pieces someday.  It is Kathryn Greeley's #2 choice in her Top Ten China Patterns.  Now retired, this pattern was that which Napoleon used while in exile on the south Atlantic island of St. Helena.  

Vintage Bronze Souvenirs of Paris Aside a 

Vintage Avon Bee Skep Cologne Bottle

Vintage Letter Openers Atop 1900 Edition of L'Aiglon, 

A Play In Six Acts Based On The Life Of Napoleon's Son

Performed At The Knickerbocker Theatre 

New York, October 1900

Serving a light brunch, I used the opportunity to follow Karhryn Greeley's advice: "Mixing antique collections with contemporary tabletop pieces adds drama and the unexpected."  With my collection as the central focus of my tables, I could easily pull select pieces to share with the group as I presented my topic.

Empire by Walbrzych, Poland, 

A lovely ribbed and scalloped plate with gold verge and trim was

a  thrifty Goodwill find.  With a name like Empire  

I thought it most appropriate in homage to Napoleon.

The golden bee textiles are from William Sonoma.

Petite Forks by Sabre of Paris 

MacKenzie-Childs Flower Market 

and Courtly Check Enamel Ware

Salmon Spread with Crackers

Recipe here

Seasonal Berries and Melon 

with Onion Walnut Muffins

Recipe here

The drink table featured 

items with the bee motif.

Petite French Faience Vase, CA 
Napoleonic Bee Vintage Silk Fragment, c1880

Napoleonic Bee Stems, 
La Rochere of France

For The Dessert Table

~ A Touch of Josephine ~

The stack of plates are Sarreguemines transfer ware c.1890-1922, and each feature a different Napoleonic military scene.  These were ironically found on a CAMEO field trip to Fredericksburg, TX.  One never knows where treasures will be discovered.

The red toleware jardiniere is a contemporary piece.

Pair of  Revolutionary Commemorative Plates, PBx, c1880.

 Sweet Little Souvenirs  
Chateau de Fontainebleau, 2011

Vintage Tiara ~ A Gift From My CAMEO Friends

If you enjoy historical fiction and the subject is of interest, I highly recommend reading Sandra Gulland's trilogy about Josephine.  It's a new look at this fascinating character of French history.

I reviewed each book in the links below.

For those of you still with me on this 

lengthy post, I offer you some sweet treats.

~ Napoleons ~

Layers of Mille-Feuille and Vanilla Cream 

Topped with Fondant

Bee Sugar Cookies

Vanilla Meringue Bites 

Perhaps this post will inspire you to begin a memorabilia 

collection of your own on a theme that interests you.



The summer we married, my husband was in graduate school, and I was employed as a teacher. We took a portion of our savings that summer and purchased a sailboat. We christened our Catalina 22, “Hyacinths For The Soul” after Saadi’s poem. Our "Hyacinths" provided years of pleasure.


  1. What a marvelous collection -- and how beautifully you've displayed it! I know your CAMEO friends were delighted to see it and learn about it. The sweets you served looked wonderful and delicious! Thanks, too, for the link to Kathryn Greeley's blog. I have The Collected Tabletop, too, and love it.

  2. On my way to Amazon to order The Collected Tabletop. Napoleon and Josephine are an endlessly interesting couple. I always thought that she either had to be quite desperate or incredibly patient. Perhaps both. The vignette for your table is stunning. You set a high benchmark for the rest of your CAMEO group. I loved Fontainbleu...what an amazing place. I was fascinated by the incredible abundance of motifs/patterns applied to every surface. As impressive as it is, I did think that if I had to live there, iall the patterns would give me an incessant headache...I'd always be looking for a reason to leave the chateau for the day. Thanks for inviting us for a peak. Cherry Kay

  3. Oh dear, that TIARA! And not to mention the scrumptuous treats and history to boot! I am in good company then, since today, March 6th is my 31st wedding anniversary!

    Hi Sarah! It is wonderful to see you at my blog post. I was originally going on a flight to California, but I had to cancel my trip, so I have returned from my break. I hope spring is blooming for you; we had many inches of snow yesterday!

    Happy day, Anita

    Gracias amiga por compartir; tu reportage es precioso, lo he disfrutado mucho.
    UN ABRAZO :)

  5. You have blended your marvelous collection with the table setting beautifully. I love all the bees-especially the cookies.

  6. This is just stunning! I love the collection and how you have used it in your table displays! What a lovely theme and so fun! I would enjoy reading the books about Josephine I'm sure! Your attention to detail never fails to amaze me. Like I said, stunning! hugs, Linda

  7. Wow! This is stunning what a marvelous collection you have. I've never seen anything like them. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your beautiful setting.
    fondly ~Lynne~

  8. Really impressive ! And very interesting story! Thanks for sharing, I truly enjoyed so much ! Sweets looks delicious , mmmm!

  9. I am in love with your collection..Not in a covetous way:)

    It's just so special... that you can FEEL the collecting~the search~ the joy~at finding such unique and precious items:)
    Years..I see years..and memories..and souvenirs..and love.
    Not just things.
    And the backyard? So pretty!

  10. Lovely post Sarah. I'm loving those two pbx plates.
    I have one piece of Napoleonic faience a beaker/mug without handle. Unsigned but believe it's early Quimper .

    You have some very nice pieces their .

  11. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your collection so Beautiful. I hope you have a wonderful week with your family.
    XXOO Diane

  12. Sarah, I love this post. A love story, France, gorgeous dishes, what's not to love. The photos were super. I may have to put a table together a with a fun collection, if I can.

  13. Oh Sarah....What an amazing collection all beautifully displayed and offered for your antique club to enjoy! I'm hard pressed to choose a favorite among all your treasures! All your bee accessories are perfectly wonderful and your MC Flower Market is making me hyperventilate! I had to scoot over to Amazon to see this book. Thanks for sharing this including your recipes~ what a treat for me and your club!

  14. Sarah,
    Magnificient collection!!!
    I'm sure your CAMEO groups was equally impressed as I to learn of your many pieces to this exquisite collection!!!
    I adore your tablescape! The mixing of other pieces enhances the collection immensely! Makes me want to have a Tea and invited a close group for an enjoyable pre~Spring Day!!!
    So inspiring, dear friend!!!

  15. what a lovely way to use this collection. Seeing the bee stemware,
    I decided to add them to my collection.
    Sarah, did you make the bee cookies, and if so, where did you get the cookie cutter.
    Since my nickname (hubbies) for me is Bee, I need one!
    Isn't sad, that the great love story did not have a great ending.....
    Sending you hugs,

  16. Sarah, omg.. I am now kicking myself, I should have sent you all the french ephemera that I still had from teaching French! I can highly recommend that you rent a car and follow the Route Napoleon through France! I am now very very homesick. Hoping to hop over the pond and go visit my brothers who like in Tours and Grasse.

    Your table is stunning. Well all of them. I would have loved to have been in that group.. CAMEO, a perfect name. And a wonderful topic. The MC pieces are so timeless and go so well with your bees and Napoleonic treasures. I must invist in the Greeley book. I love her style. Thank you for sharing all this with us. xo marlis

  17. Oh Sarah, I enjoyed seeing your collection so very much!! That's the great part of blogging...all the sharing of treasures and information. I'm sure your CAMEO group was enthralled by your presentation. I certainly was!!! I loved the idea of grouping and also adding modern pieces to the old. The Ivy Napoleon pattern is so pretty and being a tea lover, the bee teapot was adorable. What a deal on the GW dishes and your trip to Fredericksburg produced some other lovely plates. Thanks for sharing!
    p.s. The food looked great, too

  18. Sarah:

    This is such an amazing post, I don't know where to begin. Your collection is amazing and all of your information is tremendous, but how you pulled it all together is just out of this world.

    I truly believe this is my all time favorite Hyacinths for the Soul post.

    - The Tablescaper

  19. Sarah, WOW~! and again WOW!!!
    You have totally outdone yourself with these gorgeous tables. That should be in a magazine!!! The thought and care you took to make such a thing come together is amazing. I have really enjoyed reading this post and have delighted in each new picture! I think those cookies must have tasted WONDERFUL!! And the details of each piece put together made a whole lot of wonderful and interesting photos.
    Thank you soooooo much for sharing this wonderful post with us for my party!!! I'm just delighted to have you come by!

  20. What a wonderful collection and a beautiful way to use it!!! This was amazing and thank you for sharing your special pieces!!!

  21. This whole entire post is STUNNING. As I have told you so many times over the years, you have such beautiful treasures of all kinds...and you have the talent to use them to really REALLY show them off....
    Would you let one of the little adorable bee cookies fly out to West Texas to have with my hot tea this morning?

  22. Oh Sarah...what an incredible collection & how beautifully you've set things out for display! That had to be the most delightful visit...wish I could have been there.

    I know I've said it before, but I'm saying it again, I never fail to learn something every time I visit your beautiful blog. Well done, my friend!!


    p.s. No, Ms. C. would not wear a matching Irish step-dance dress. *sigh* She is now into "Justice" clothing. *double sigh*

  23. My jaw literally dropped open, when I saw this post. I was a history major in college and have a former French teacher daughter and we both love French and English history. Your collection is incredible and I truly have never thought about looking for treasures like these, when I have been in Paris. Wow! What a delight to have had a peek at all of these beauties. I imagine your friends were floored, when they saw them, too!!

  24. Sarah, I enjoyed this post so much. I love your themed collection. I'm also fascinated by Josephine! I made a presentation about her at school when I was young. Did you know that she preferred wearing black pearls because it made her look fairer? She was Creole, and her skin tone embarrassed her. So my grandmother bought me some black pearls home from Hong Kong when I was in high school.

    LOVE this post, and your collection is fantastic, Sarah. What a nice presentation for your meeting. I know everyone loved seeing your collection and enjoyed the snacks!


  25. Wow! You have an amazing collection of Napoleon and Josephone memorabilia, Sarah. I only have one, a set of demitasse tea cups and tray showing their pictures. I really enjoyed seeing all the details on this post, so much education too. Thank you! Beautiful presentation!...Christine

  26. Yes ma'am, that table would prompt plenty of conversation. There is so much to enjoy there. Love those bee cookies. You take table setting to a whole new level!

  27. I just HAD to stop here when I saw the name of your blog. "Hyacinths" has been one of my most favorite poems since I first read it. I quote it whenever there is something I really, really would like but know there are other places to spend my money. Once in a while we DO need to feed the soul and surround ourselves with the things that bring us joy, happiness and peace. Enjoyed viewing your collection, thank you for sharing with us.

  28. Oh Sarah, this is beyond gorgeous!

  29. Sarah, I have only scrolled back-and-forth through this post about 20 times, just drinking in all of these treasures. What fun this meeting must have been! Of course, all of the faience stole my heart, but all of the collection is spectacular. What fun food, and the favors are adorable. I can't imagine where you found those. Great post! laurie

  30. Hi Sarah! What a neat post! You have a beautiful collection and you've tied everything together so beautifully! The food looks delicous, and the decor and setting is just lovely! I'll have to check out that book as well! Thanks for sharing this! =D

  31. Dear Sarah,
    you are unbelievable. What a gorgeous buffet you have set. Not only the wonderful collection but also the matching food. Bees cookies and so on. You are so ingenious! Thank you for sharing. I wish I could attend the party. Wish you lots of fun together with your friends.
    Best greetings, Johanna

  32. An amazing, beautiful collection!! And you put it all together so wonderfully. Sally

  33. Delightful! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration! ~Kristie

  34. Oh delicious these sweets look. What an incredible display! Lovely and I am so pleased to shared your link with Open House.

  35. Wow! What an amazing collection, Sarah! I love it all! Now I need to head back to Paris and revisit a few places! :-) I love the way you always display your fabulous finds! now I'm off to catch up...lots of babysitting as usual!...hugs...Debbie

  36. You are definitely not 'short' on your Napoleonic collection! Love the bees!

  37. What a fabulous collection -- loved the tour and history you shared.

  38. SARAHSARAHSARAH!!!! Your collections are breathtaking; I don't know what to say! Thank you for sharing!

  39. Oh Sarah, Your Napoleon and Josephine themed brunch has inspired me to add to the few pieces I have. This is such an amazing post, just beautiful. You have such a fabulous collection, the pots with lids are my favorites and of course the Revolutionary plates are my other favorite! Such a beautiful presentation and I love everything, the bee glasses, flatware and the souvenir dolls. The food looks amazing. I'm sure your guests were delighted.
    Jim and I toured Chateau Malmaison on one of our trips to Paris. It was amazing. As we entered we passed a delightful gift shop. As we ended our tour I couldn't wait for the gift shop and choosing gifts for family and friends at home. They had just closed! :(
    I've enjoyed your brunch!

    The French Hutch

  40. I'll say it again. You have the most fabulous collections of everything!

  41. Oh, Sarah! Your collection is just amazing and so beautiful. What lovely pieces you have and you've really set up a pretty table. You haven't missed a beat! I'd love to see where you store all of your treasures! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  42. Good grief, Sarah...this is a FABULOUS collection!!! I mean, you've got it all from soup to nuts!!! If anybody could appreciate this, your CAMEO group sure could! I'll just bet they were tickled just as pink as those pretty dianthus in that cool Faience vase! I love the mix of vintage and contemporary. I have "The Collected Tabletop", and I really makes the table quite interesting to have a thoughtful mix of styles. Onion Walnut muffins??!?!?!?! I will have to look at that recipe. That is a REALLY different combination! The bee cookies are SO cute! My hand is not quite steady enough to pull that off! And, of course, you HAD to have Napoleans for dessert, too! :-) People have often said I have "Napolean Syndrome" because I am short but walk really hard and purposefully. Maybe, too, because I'm like a bee in their bonnet! :-) :-) :-) Have a great weekend!!!

  43. Wow Sarah!
    Like super wow, so many things here that are just gorgeous!
    Your collections amaze me.
    And those bee cookies...the cutest ever!
    hugs friend,

  44. Oh my word, this is totally amazing, I am in awe, such a great collection. You've presented everything so beautifully, I am sure your friends loved it all. Hugs, Marty

  45. Oh Sarah this is great collection of Napoleon. thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog.Hugs

  46. Being of French heritage I found this a very interesting post, Sarah...and such an unusual collection. The pottery pieces are so pretty.
    Thank you for sharing your many collections.

  47. oh that was FUN! i was just enchanted with all your busy bee treasures! first, i have to say the cookie stopped me cold, i was doing great until i saw that, then i was kinda stuck, like up to my ankles in honey, i just didn't want to leave!

    you have so many wonderful things, how fun to lay them all out in such a pretty way. what a wonderful spread and collection.

    i see you love to travel, but its nice you found something just as rewarding worth staying home for, happy anni to sadie! hope your hubby is feeling better soon and thanks for all the eye candy, such a treat today~

  48. I am a great fan of Paris and love your Napoleon-abilia. Merci, bien!


  49. What a wonderful collection.Going through your post is like visiting a French museum....Awesome post...Thank you:):)

  50. Sarah, Your collection of Napoleonic memorabilia is fabulous. So many beautiful pieces, and I love how you mixed them with the Courtly Check. Love your choices of special food dishes for your guests..yum. I'm checking out your salmon spread recipe, and how cute are the bee cookies. Well done, Sarah!

  51. What an amazing post Sarah!! Don't know where to begin everything is just gorgeous and the theme is wonderful! Your collection of courtly check and all the Napoleon pottery and statues are exquisite! Your guest must have been blown away!! The salmon spread looks fantastic...we love salmon!! Love the bee cookies and honey bee pots and accessories...simply gorgeous!
    Miss Bloomers

  52. What a fabulous table this is! I really enjoyed looking at your lovely collection, and the nicely paired treats. I couldn't agree more that collections should be seen and used. What a great challenge to all of us for future table settings.

  53. I am amazed at what people collect....I didn't know Napoleon was so popular a collectible, but I like it!...those sweet cookies look great...and I will take Napoleon please, they are one of my favs!!

  54. Sarah, what a wonderful collection you have! I just showed my husband, and we looked carefully at each piece. We are both jealous that you can entertain outdoors at this time of year! We skied in the mountains today ;o)

  55. This was such a beautiful and interesting post to read, Sarah. Your Napoleonic memorabilia collection is fabulous! I have some George Washington memorabilia, as he is my favorite historical figure, but I'd need much more to amke a fascinating vignette like yours. I have to look for more as you've inspired me!

    Your lumcheon looked beautiful! I have the same bee topped tea pot as you do. Love your bumblebee cookies!

  56. Sarah this is absolutely amazing! Marvellous collection. What a wonderful party you have planned. Each piece you have collected is so special. I hope you find more Napoleon Ivy Wedgwood. To think he sipped from the same china. I love that.

  57. Ya Know!? You have an amazing collection and such a gift with your party tables. I have a couple of tablescaping books already but I might just need this one too! :)
    Super FUN Post!

    Happy St. Paddy's Day!

  58. Sarah, I know that I have previously left a comment here, but I just have to state, again, how incredible your collection is. I may never get over this post!! Your collection and the way that you have used it here may end up being my favorite blog post of all time. Love, love it!! Am I gushing enough, yet? :-)

  59. What a wonderful collection adn such delicious recipes.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  60. My goodness what an impressive table! And what a good idea for sharing your collection. I love this presentation. I have to go back and look it over again. How perfect to end with Napoleons for dessert! I'm sure everyone was dazzled! (I didn't know about Napoleons's dishes!) Fabulous!

  61. Great to have you at SEASONAL SUNDAYS!

    - The Tablescaper

  62. Oh, Sarah! What a great collection you have. I love the bee theme and never would have thought how well it suits Napoleon. Great post. I enjoyed how you displayed this!

  63. Oh be still my heart! Viva la Napolean and Josephine!

  64. Wow, you have such a gorgeous collection and food served on them were equally tempting! Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog...

  65. What an incredible collection! And the way that you have displayed it is truly amazing!

    Thanks so much for inspiring me today!

  66. Oh Sarah, that TIARA just calls my name!

    Thank you dear heart for coming to visit my post. It means a lot to me that people would read my poem and leave a comment; I purposely left out a lot of photos to just highlight the words.

    I hope March is dripping away where you live! Anita

  67. What a beautiful post. Your collection is so lovely and so impressive. What a lovely spread you were able to present for your friends and I just know that your topic was presented with grace and a wealth of fascinating information on this historical period.
    Thanks for sharing, Ginger

  68. Sarah, I have to admit I always love your tablescapes, but this one is over the top gorgeous. I love the details and your trips to Paris must be so much fun. Not to mention the memories associated with each piece, I am sure. Oh and the food, you made me hungry. But there is nothing in my fridge that compares.

    Have a beautiful day.


  69. such an amazing post Sarah. I loved all that I learned here tonight. The Napoleon bee has always been a favorite of mine. I painted a small side table not too long ago with the bee on it.

  70. Another fabulous collection, Sarah! The way you pulled it all together was amazing. I am sure your guests were overjoyed to partake in such a lovely brunch!

  71. What an AMZING collection of FABULOUS things..each and every piece is SWOON!!!!!! Oh dear Sarah, I wish I was at that brunch extravaganza, with such yummy food as well. Thank you for your visit, it always makes my day! Hugs,

  72. Paris is on m bucket list next Sara. One destination at a time for me:) What a gorgeous Collection you have. I am really excited to do a little shopping in Ireland myself.

  73. What an interesting collection you have, Sarah, and I love the tablescapes! Thanks for visiting my blue and white post. ~Zuni

  74. Oh Sarah - what a gorgeous collection - and how beautiful it all looks as a table scape!!!
    Eye candy - I'd be happy to just sit and stare at your table - wouldn't need to eat LOL

  75. Hi Sarah, you certainly have some beautiful collections, and display them with style! I can see we are both fans of Harlequin, it works well with so many pieces....first visit, but not my last, new follower, N.xo

  76. Hi Sarah, you certainly have some beautiful collections, and display them with style! I can see we are both fans of Harlequin, it works well with so many pieces....first visit, but not my last, new follower, N.xo

  77. I love an eclectic collection. For me, the best part is the MC Courty Check. It goes with anything and I am in love.

  78. Oh my goodness - what a fabulous collection! I have never seen anything like it and your gathering is just gorgeous. Of course I especially love your sweets - the little bee cookies are precious! Hope you can stop by the enchanted oven.

  79. What gorgeous pieces! Looks like a lovely brunch!

  80. Oh my gosh Sarah, this is amazing! Your collection is fabulous and I love the pop of black and white checked. I too love gathering things together for a fun tablescape. I love Napoleons and wish I had one right now to satisfy my sweet tooth. lol! the bee cookies are too cute! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  81. Your Napoleon and Josephine collection is extensive and fabulous.
    The foods you selected are perfect, like the bee cookies. I think a museum would be honored to house these handsome pieces of history.

  82. I would love to start my own cameo group , could you please elaborate how the group works?

  83. WOW - totally fabulous! I have a set of Madame Alexander dolls of Napoleon and Josephine from my childhood. They were always among my favorites!

  84. How did i miss this post, Sarah? My father is a great admirer of Napoleon. When we were younger, he would take my brother and me to Les Invalides, in Paris, and pay our respects to "L'Empereur" with a minute of silence. My younger cousins told me years later that he did the same with them :-) My brother lives in Rueil Malmaison, in the Western suburbs of Paris, where Josephine de Beauharnais lived for years in a beautiful château Napoléon purchased for her. There is a lot to say about their stormy relationship, and your arrangements and private collection of artifacts do it justice! Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  85. Okay, I LOVE every detail! This is fabulous!

  86. Okay, I LOVE every detail! This is fabulous!

  87. Oh Sarah I am just in awe of your wonderful collection! I can't wait to show my cousin this post.


Thank you to each of you who take the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate each and every one and will respond to any questions. Your notes are the only way I know who has stopped in for a visit.