Winston Churchill: Cigar smoked by the British Prime Minister goes under hammer after being found in jar
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A cigar smoked by Winston Churchill during World War Two has been found in a jar - and is now going under the hammer. The British Prime Minister gave the tobacco to Hugh Stonehewer-Bird, consul general in Rabat, Morocco, at an event in the North African country back in August 1944.
And the starstruck diplomat then went on to treasure the item, preserving it for posterity in a glass jar bearing an official “On His Majesty’s Service” handwritten label. Hugh’s granddaughter said he’d kept the cigar on display with a photo of Churchill until he died at 81 in 1973, and it was passed down to his relatives.
But now, 50 years later, they’ve decided to offer it to other collectors whose interest might be drawn to the incredible piece of history. She said: “My grandparents were great Churchill fans.
“They kept the cigar on display with a photo and quirky figure of Sir Winston, which are also being sold with the item. My grandfather was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1891.
“He worked in the Foreign Office and, during his time in Rabat during the Second World War, hosted Churchill. A dinner party was held in the prime minister’s honour and he gave my grandfather the half-smoked cigar at the end of the event.
“My grandfather died at the age of 81 in 1973 and his cigar has been looked after by the family ever since. But after 50 years in our care, we’ve decided it’s time for someone else to enjoy owning it.”
The cigars label proudly states: “This cigar was smoked by Winston Churchill on August 29th, 1944 at Rabat, Morocco, at a dinner party given for him by Mr and Mrs Stonehewer-Bird.”
“This is an iconic piece of memorabilia connected to one of Britain’s most famous prime ministers and the Second World War. Churchill was renowned for his love of cigars and occasionally gave them as gifts to people who had helped him in any way.
“People went to great lengths to preserve them for posterity and, in this case, a glass jar has done an excellent job for 79 years. The original handwritten label provides the provenance collectors like. We hope this item will excel under the hammer.”
Churchill served as UK prime minister twice, from 1940-1945 during WW2 and again from 1951-1955. Cigars fortified him throughout his leadership years.
He was rarely seen without one and was renowned for leaving a trail of smoke and ashes in his wake. He discovered Cuban cigars during a spell in the country and became hooked for life, smoking about ten a day.
He puffed away during meetings and meals, chewed on the ends and occasionally left them continually burning without inhaling them. Charles added: “It’s impossible to know how much Churchill spent on cigars but apparently on one occasion he smoked the equivalent of his valet’s weekly salary in two days.
“Cigars were one of the loves of his life. He kept around 4,000, all carefully labelled, in a special storage room at Chartwell, his former home in Kent.” The cigar has a guide price of £600-900.