The revolver that wounded French poet Arthur Rimbaud has been sold for £370,000 at an auction in Paris. Rimbaud was shot by his lover Paul Verlaine, another French poet, during a heated debate between the two in 1873.

The gun, which is regarded by many as the most famous gun in French history, was sold for more than seven times its original estimate of £54,000.

 

The two men are known for having an absinthe-fuelled affair with the 29 year old Verlaine abandoning his young wife and child to be with Rimbaud, who was still a teenager.

Verlaine eventually wanted to go back to his wife and fled to the Belgian capital to get away from Rimbaud but the teenager followed him to Brussels and it was in a hotel room there where the argument ensued.

Verlaine famously shouted “Here’s how I will teach you how to leave!” before firing two shots at Rimbaud, one striking his wrist and another hitting the wall behind him.

Despite this, and after a hospital visit, a bandaged Rimbaud again begged Verlaine not to leave him, prompting Verlaine to again draw his pistol but he was apprehended by a passing police officer and sentenced to two years in a Belgian prison.

During his time in prison, he wrote 32 poems that would later appear in some of his best-known collections: Sagesse, Jadis et Naguère and Invectives.

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The revolver was returned to the gun shop in Brussels where Verlaine had bought it, and there it remained all the way up until the closure of the shop in 1981 when it was bought by a collector.

Rimbaud returned home to Charleville in northern France and finished Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell), a book that became one of his most famous works.

He later died of illness in the southern city of Marseille at the age of 37, after a business career which included trading firearms in Africa.

At William George & Co. we often hold militaria auctions and our latest auction ends this Sunday, 4th of December. Packed full of antique arms and WWI & WWII items as well as a host of armour, uniform and insignia.

Click here to view the Rare arms & militaria auction

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