How much would you pay for a box of Winston Churchill’s personal cigars? If the number you’ve conjured isn’t close to the $20,000 mark, then you should probably put the idea of ever acquiring such a rare relic out of your head. At the Fine Autograph and Artifacts auction, which took place from July 20 to August 10, a box of 10 La Corona cigars that belonged to Churchill sold for $19,159 according to Boston-based RR Auction.
The cigars are said to have been gifted from Churchill to a wartime attendant who served between 1940 and 1945, according to the brother of the recipient in a letter of provenance accompanying the sale. The cigars were made by Álvarez López y Cía of Havana, Cuba. Churchill’s full name can be seen across the red and gold bands, which, evidently, was commissioned as part of a friendly gesture by a New York businessman named Samuel Kaplan, who supplied Churchill with the smokes in 1940.
“The Cuban cigar became an integral component of Churchill’s public image—he smoked as many as ten a day, and was rarely pictured without one,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction.
The cigars weren’t the only big-ticket items at the Fine Autograph and Artifacts auction. Some of the other key lots included a document signed by Abraham Lincoln during his presidency that permitted trade across military lines during the Civil War (sold for $41,321); a Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation agreement from 1947 signed by Marliyn Monroe and by Norma Jeane Dougherty—her legal name (sold for $32,103); and a letter signed by George Washington as president in 1791 (sold for $27,500).
The top-seller, however, dates back to 1536. The artifact was a document signed by King Henry VIII that ordered the treasurer and chamberlain to cover the expenses of the feast day of St. George, once a popular holiday in England in the 15th through 17th centuries. It sold for $66,435.