A cigar half smoked by Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill is set to light up our saleroom next month and could fetch up to £2,500.
The cigar, with its distinctive red and gold Winston Churchill band, together with associated photographs and a letter from his secretary on House of Commons headed notepaper, have been consigned to our’ two-day country house auction on April 26 and 27.
Churchill, who led Britain to victory in the Second World War, served as Conservative Prime Minister twice from 1940 to ’45 and from 1951 to ’55.
He half smoked the cigar before boarding an aeroplane at Le Bouget Airport, Paris on May 11, 1947 after spending three days in the French capital. A photograph in the lot shows Churchill standing in the doorway of the Avro York MW101 aeroplane smoking the cigar.
“He stubbed out the cigar in an ashtray after boarding the plane and it was taken into protective custody by Corporal William Alan Turner, Air Quartermaster with 24 Squadron Transport Command, who was a member of the cabin crew that flew Churchill and his wife from RAF Northolt to Paris and home again,” said Andrew Beeston, senior auctioneer and valuer.
“The cigar remained in late Corporal Turner’s possession and must have been a topic of conversation for many years. Had it not been half smoked by the great man, the value would have been much less and the photograph supports the provenance.”
In addition to the photograph signed by Churchill, the letter from his secretary refers to returning three album pages containing 14 photographs of his visit to Paris from May 9 to 11.
Another interesting lot consigned to the auction is a large, late 19th century bronze of a mare by Pierre Jules Mene from a South Shropshire vendor, which is valued at up to £6,000. The bronze was modelled in 1868 and is number 33 in the Mene catalogue.
A bronze figure of a Moorish warrior by Austrian Franz Bergman, dating to around 1900, which was identified at our antique valuation event in Tenby, is valued at up to £500.
Another bronze, this time of a Siamese cat by Polish-born contemporary artist Walenty Pytel, carries an estimate of around £600.
The artist is best known for his jubilee fountain sculpture that stands in New Palace Yard, Westminster and he also created The Fossor, a 45 feet high sculpture made of digger parts for the JCB site in Rocester. When installed in 1979, it was the largest steel sculpture in Europe.
Three large oak refectory tables, originally commissioned by Birmingham University from Gordon Russell Limited, Broadway in around 1930 for the refurbished dining hall, are expected to attract huge interest with a pre-sale estimate of £800 each.
Unusually, two of the tables retain their original paper labels and they have been entered in the auction by a Birmingham vendor. Mr Beeston is hunting for photographs of the university’s main hall, which show the tables in the 1930s.
A nest of three occasional tables of Art Deco design from the workshops of French furniture manufacturer Gallé are expected to fetch around £1,500. The tables, which are inlaid with specimen wood and the Gallé signature, have been consigned by a Shropshire vendor.