Today is the 136th anniversary of the birth of soldier, journalist and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, widely considered to be of Britain's greatest 20th century heroes.
Not surprisingly for a man of Churchill's stature and renown (including being voted #1 in a BBC poll of the "100 Greatest Britons" in 2002) much time and money is invested by collectors, historians and institutions into preserving his legacy.
For instance, the UK's National Lottery once paid £12.5m for Churchill's personal thoughts, with the same documents being valued at £40m only months later.
Clearly, there is as much money as there is interest in Churchill collectibles - which is appropriate enough for a man who once said: "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."
Here are a few of our favourites which have recently appeared on the markets...
#3 Churchill's full-cut crocodile-skin cigar case (with cigar)
Historical letters aren't the only personal items from Churchill's life to attract buyers. Among the items considered most personally important by the man himself were cigars...
"My rule of life prescribed, as an absolutely sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and - if need be - during all meals, and in the intervals between them" - Winston Churchill
Earlier this year, a half-finished cigar which Churchill abandoned to attend an urgent during the early 1940s sold for £4,500. And it wasn't the last.
Collectors didn't have a chance to buy a Churchill DNA-laced cigar at Christie's sale, timed earlier today (November 30) to coincide with his birthday. But they did have a chance to own the wartime PM's full-cut crocodile-skin cigar case...
Dated to circa 1934 and made by Cartier Ltd, London, the initials 'W S C' are set in brass on the case's fastening while a single cigar (unmarked) remains in the four-cigar chamber.
The case, manufactured especially for Churchill, was estimated at just $6,248 - $9,372. In the end, it sold for $46,860 at Christie's London sale.
#2 The dentures that helped win WW2
Churchill loved his cigars, but his false teeth were vital. In fact, Churchill so valued the skill of his dental team that he nominated his original dentist, Wilfrid Fish, for a Knighthood.
Four sets of Sir Winston's dentures are known to exist: one is currently held by the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Another was buried with Sir Winston.
The third, meanwhile, was recently sold at auction with a far-too-low estimate of £4,000-£5,000 (about $7,500). The set finally realised £17,480 ($26,220).
"Winston Churchill came to value his [lisp] as a vital weapon in the war effort. In his wartime radio broadcasts, Churchill's distinctive voice was instantly recognisable. He wanted it to stay that way, so he had his dentures designed specifically to preserve his [famous] lisp" - BBC report
Actually, the BBC got the above report slightly-wrong. The "false teeth that 'helped win WWII'" weren't the pair sold for £17,480 ($26,220) - that was just a spare set. The actual set worn by Churchill is still for sale on the private markets.
#1 Churchill's answer to Parliamentary questions ($32,925)
Here's an especially valuable piece of Churchill memorabilia, a typed letter whose value is boosted by the addition of Sir Winston's personal handwritten notes.
The letter is an original typescript of Churchill's answer to a Parliamentary question posted by Colonel Lyons, war-dated "10th May 1944".
Lyons's question concerns the supply of material and munitions by Britain to USSR on two pages. Churchill's autographed revisions are in red ink, consisting of 27 words.
The decision by the British Government in August 1941 to send military supplies to her new ally was as much for political reasons and to boost morale as to provide any really significant military assistance. This historic letter gives a singular and insight into that decision.
The typescript was given by Churchill to Sir Peter Agnew, MP (1900-1990), who served in the Royal Navy. Agnew's copy of his letter of thanks to Churchill, also dated 10 May 1944, accompanies the typescript, which is currently sale priced at £19,950 ($32,925).
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