The £1million Churchill sale
Rarely seen photographs, revealing letters, his engagement diary from the Second World War and even an unsmoked cigar all form part of this astonishing private collection of memorabilia.
Amassed over 30 years by American Malcolm S Forbes Jr, grandson of Forbes magazine founder BC Forbes, it is expected to raise well over £1million when sold at auction.
Announcing the sale yesterday auctioneers Christie's described it as 'the most important and comprehensive private collection of letters and books related to Winston Churchill ever assembled.'
The most sought-after lot is his war diary that could fetch up to £120,000.
But many items date from the adventurous days before he became a politician. A letter Churchill wrote gives a dramatic account of taking part in the last ever cavalry charge by the British army at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan in 1898.
In the letter written in September 1898, he says that having been faced with an enemy of 'at the very least 40,000 men - five miles long with great humps and squares at intervals,' and having been shot at and returned to rejoin his squadron: 'It was, I suppose, the most dangerous two minutes I should live to see'.
The next year, Churchill was captured during his service in the Boer War and sent to prison in Pretoria. He escaped by vaulting a wall behind the latrines and waiting in an outer garden.
He then left the prison, walked confidently down the road humming a tune and jumped on a moving train.
The auction will offer the telegram sent by the Boer police as they attempted to track him down. It describes him as 'Englishman 25 years old about 5 foot 8 inches tall medium build walks with a slight stoop. Pale features.
Reddish-brown hair almost invisible small moustache. Speaks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S.'
The fame Churchill gained from the escape helped him become an MP and the telegram is expected to fetch £6,000 to £8,000. The collection is be sold at three auctions, the first in London on June 2, the second in New York and the third in London next year.
Churchill's engagement diary gives daily details of the Prime Minister's appointments from September 1939 to June 1945.
The diary was kept by his private secretaries and summits with leaders including Roosevelt and Stalin are recorded, as well as his regular Tuesday meeting with the king.
The cards also record leisurely pursuits, including a football match at Wembley in October 1941 and occasional theatre jaunts.
Thomas Venning, director of books and manuscripts at Christie's, London, said: 'Winston Churchill is one of the most famous historical figures of the 20th century and his feats as a politician, and as the wartime prime minister of Great Britain in particular, continue to attract great attention and admiration.
'This outstanding collection presents an exceptional and fascinating insight into his personality, character, sharp wit and his distinctive way with words, with letters, photographs and books spanning his entire life, from his first portrait photo as a baby to correspondence from his last years.'
Further highlights include:
A first edition, presentation copy of Churchill's book Arms And The Covenant, set to fetch £12,000 to £18,000. The book was presented to Guy Burgess, the infamous double agent who worked for MI5 during the war and who was later revealed to have been recruited as a Soviet spy. The book is inscribed: 'To Guy Burgess, from Winston S Churchill, to confirm his admirable sentiments'.
A letter discussing religion written in January 1899 to his cousin, Ivor, later 1st Viscount Wimborne, expected to realise £6,000 to £9,000. Churchill states: 'All religion is a delicious narcotic' and that 'Catholicism - all religion if you like, but particularly Catholicism, is a delicious narcotic. It may soothe the pains and chase our worries, but it checks our growth and saps our strength.'
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