This week, the nation remembered its longest day. Commemorations took place across the country paying tribute to the D-Day Landings and the resilient wartime generation and it got us thinking about one man in particular; Sir Winston Churchill…
Largely considered to be Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, it is unsurprising that Churchill memorabilia has been the commemorative of choice to mark this significant anniversary.
So, we took a look back at the wealth of Churchill collectable commemorative pieces available and we were fascinated by what we found…
Churchill himself would surely chuckle at the demand and value of his many paintings. The art world was stunned when one of his pieces, depicting the gold fish pond in the grounds of his house, sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 for £1.8 million. It had been valued at about £300,000.
Winston’s spare dentures
Churchill was a brilliant speaker but for much of his life he wore a special set of dentures which helped to correct his lisp. He had numerous sets of these dentures, part-cast in gold, and he always carried spares in case of emergencies.
One set was sent for a repair just before Churchill’s death in 1965. They remained in the collection of Wallace Stewart Ross, Churchill’s dentist during his later years. They sold at Bonhams in 2011 for £19,200.
‘Burn this letter’ ordered Winston
Documents and letters written by Churchhill are priceless.
In May 1940 Churchill became Prime Minister following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. He was immediately surrounded by a number of voices urging him to make a peace with Hitler, including his foreign secretary Lord Halifax. The advice they gave him was that Britain should make a deal with Hitler after the Blizkrieg on France and the British army evacuation at Dunkirk.
One letter, from his assistant private secretary Eliot Crawshay-Williams, said Britain should use its “nuisance value while we have one, to get the best peace terms possible”.
Churchill replied with a short-handwritten letter which read: “’I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you — to burn & forget”. The letter, along with the original by Crawshay-Williams, sold at Christie’s in 2010 for £34,850.
High praise for Lawrence of Arabia
T.E. Lawrence was the army officer whose exploits among the Arabs during WWI inspired the nickname ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Lawrence’s personal account of his adventures was published in the book “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”. It became a best-seller and captured the imagination of readers around the world. In May 1927 Churchill wrote to Lawrence praising the book: “I think your book will live with Gulliver’s Travels & Robinson Crusoe. The copy which you gave me, with its inscription is one of my most valuable possessions.”
That four-page hand-written letter sold at Christie’s in New York in 2004 for £35,000.
“My pal” Joe Stalin
In 1943 the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin met with Churchill and US President Theodore Roosevelt in Tehran. They wanted to set out a plan for defeating Germany and prepare a future for Europe after the war.
In September 1944, following Soviet victories throughout Eastern Europe, Churchill inscribed a photograph of himself to Stalin: “From his Friend Winston S. Churchill, September 1944 To Marshal & Premier Stalin, who at the head of the Russian Armies & of the Soviet Government broke the main strength of the German military machine”.
However, finding that the frame for the photograph obscured the inscription he re-wrote it on another. The first one he gave to his assistant private secretary Sir John Colville. In 2011 it sold at a Christie’s auction for £73,250.
£9,000 for a cigar – partly smoked!
Churchill was hardly ever seen without a Cuban cigar in his mouth. He littered the world with cigar stubs as he attended peace conferences and summits and checked on the British Empire. Occasionally these rescued stubs come up for sale.
In 2017 one sold for £9,000. It was a 10cm Cuban cigar which Churchill smoked at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris on May 11, 1947. It was retrieved by William Alan Turner who flew Churchill and his wife to and from Paris. It featured a red-and-gold La Corona label alongside the wartime leader’s full name.
Piers Morgan buys the former PM’s cigar for £2,600
It must have been almost Piers Morgan’s “finest hour” when the TV presenter paid £2,600 for a half-smoked cigar which was left behind by Churchill on a voyage to the US to meet with President Roosevelt.
It was salvaged by a member of the crew of HMS Duke of York in 1941. Piers even tweeted about purchase.
Churchill memorabilia will continue to increase in value with the years, unlike many other ‘lesser’ leaders whose cache declines as memories fade..
If you’re interested…
For months we have been carefully curating our very own D-Day Anniversary range, featuring a variety of exclusive D-Day commemorative pieces…
From a premium collection of authentic newspaper reports to a stunning model replica of the iconic Spitfire plane, the range pays tribute the Allied forces and military leaders who made the mission a success. Not to mention, two very special coins commemorating Churchill himself…