Inspired by the heroes of antiquity, he wishes to wear a wreath of gold laurel leaves at the coronation ceremony. That crown is commissioned to Martin-Guillaume Biennais, a goldsmith with the trademark Au Singe Violet who for two years has been the exclusive supplier of silverware for Napoléon's table.
Biennais realizes and assembles the very finely chiseled leaves in a size and according to a naturalistic motif that were probably the same for the whole set. Each leaf was 9.2 cm long and 2.5 cm maximum wide and weighed 10 g.
Napoléon tests the crown before the ceremony. According to the story told by the Biennais family, he finds that the crown is too heavy and requires the craftsman to remove six leaves. It may seem surprising that the emperor considered that a difference of 60 g was so significant. Perhaps he simply wanted to reward Biennais for the quality of his work.
Again from the family tradition, Biennais presented a gold leaf to each of his six daughters. A leaf that was still in the descendance is estimated beyond € 100K for sale by Osenat in Fontainebleau on November 19, lot 164. Here is the link to the website of the auction house. Strangely no information is known about what happened to the other five leaves removed by Biennais.
Another leaf survives with another provenance. It had become detached before the reuse of the wreath by the emperor in 1805 for his coronation as king of Italy. Napoléon had not required the crown to be repaired and had offered the gold leaf to Isabey, author of the mishandling, who inserted it into a snuffbox.
SOLD for € 500K before fees