England

Winston Churchill's partly-smoked cigar auctioned

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Usherette Violet King had the cigar, letter and newspaper cutting encased in plastic

A cigar, partly smoked by Winston Churchill and "picked up and treasured" by an usherette, is to be sold.

Violet King saw then prime minister drop the cigar at the London Coliseum in January 1953, her great nephew Julian Lewis said.

Ms King wrote to Churchill asking if she could "tell her friends she had his cigar" and kept a letter from Downing Street giving his consent.

Auctioneers Hansons said the item could fetch £6,000 in the December sale.

Hansons said the cigar's "rock solid provenance" and good condition had boosted the guide price.

Mr Lewis, 50, took the 66-year-old cigar, which his great aunt had encased in plastic with the letter, to a valuation event in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

He said his great aunt picked up the cigar and "treasured it for the rest of her life".

"Violet died in her 90s back in the 1980s, but I remember her telling me the story," he said.

"It was her claim to fame. She was very proud of the cigar. She liked to talk about it and show it to people."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Winston Churchill gave the victory sign after being cheered by the audience at the Coliseum, a newspaper report said

Replying to Ms King's letter, Churchill's secretary, Jane Portal, said he "had of course, no objection to you telling your friends that the cigar you found is his and much appreciates your goodwill."

Ms King also kept and encased a newspaper cutting from 31 January, 1953, which said the prime minister and his wife Clementine were at the Coliseum to see the musical film Call Me Madam.

"When they entered the audience rose and cheered. Mr Churchill smiled and gave the victory sign," it said.

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The letter thanked Ms King for her "goodwill". It will be auctioned with the cigar in Etwall, Derbyshire, on 11 December

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