I was interested to read Christopher Danziger's article ‘Napoleon's last resting place’ in the Trinity 2015 issue of Oxford Today. For many years I was custodian of a death mask of Napoleon which formed part of the Heber Mardon collection of Napoleana housed in the Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter. This mask was originally the property of the Scottish army doctor Archibald Arnott who replaced Napoleon's surgeon Francesco Antommarchi at the Emperor's bedside in April 1821 and was present at his death. He presented it to John Gawler Bridge from whose estate it was purchased by Maggs in 1911. From Maggs it was obtained by Heber Mardon who bequeathed it to Exeter City Library in 1925. It was thought by Baron Eugène de Veauce to be one of only five masks made on St. Helena, and to be the first copy made after the Antommarchi archetype, now in Les Invalides.
The history of the death mask is indeed complex and controversial and has spawned several books and many articles, including: The story of Napoleon's death-mask told from the original documents by G. L. de St. M. Watson (John Lane, Bodley Head, 1915), Le Dr. Antonmarchi ou le secret du masque de Napoléon by François Paoli (Publisud, 1996), Napoléon post mortem : Deux articles sur le masque mortuaire de l'empereur, suivis d'une analyse by Jacques Jousset (Lyon, Imprimerie Bosc, 1958) and L' affaire du masque de Napoléon by Eugène de Veauce (Lyon : Eugène de Veauce, 1957. It also attracted a variety of fanatics to Exeter, including one who wanted to DNA test the lock of Napoleon's hair also in the collection in an attempt to prove that Napoleon was rescued from St Helena by submarine and replaced by one of his doubles.