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A temporary export bar was placed on the cabinet in January after it was sold overseas by London dealers H Blairman & Sons.

The amboyna cabinet was last on the market in July 2013 when it sold at Sotheby's in London for £270,000 (£326,500 including premium). The exquisite silver inlays and mounts (each drawer handle is formed as a bee with hinged wings that flip forward) were made by Martin Guillaume Biennais, goldsmith to the Imperial family, whose signature is engraved on the lockplate.

It is possible Biennais may have made the cabinet in its entirety after a design by Charles Percier.

Both Napoleon and his Master of the Mint, Baron Dominique Vivant-Denon, were enthusiastic collectors of both ancient and newly minted medals. A medal was even struck in advance of the Battle of Waterloo to commemorate a victory that never occurred.

The medal cabinet will be on display in the V&A's Whiteley Silver Galleries until the end of August. It will then be exhibited permanently as part of the Museum's new Europe 1600-1800 galleries which will open in spring 2015.