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TYPED LETTER SIGNED by Winston Churchill with an Order for 1,000 “Cheap” American Cigars

”some cigars...I like very much...”


7 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches

Item Number: 13053


Typed hurriedly (by Churchill himself?) on Chartwell letterhead, dated “16th. January 1930.”

Dear Mr. Creditor, (in ink, in Churchill’s hand)

I bought some cigars at the cigar stall in the Equitable Building which I like very much as they are both mild and cheap. They are in a box marked “Royal Derby” and are called “Longfellows.” I should be much obliged if you would order for me, either from the stand or from the makers, one thousand of these cigars and have them addressed to me at above address. They say on the box that they are sold at no more than 20 cents, so I enclose you a cheque for $200.00, but should they cost more please let me know. There will of course be duty to pay, but that I understand will be collected at the docks here.

[SIGNED in ink, all in Churchill’s hand:] With kind regards,
Yours sincerely,
Winston S. Churchill

This delightful, poorly typed letter would appear not to be secretarial. The quotations marks around the word “Longfellows” have been hastily added in ink. The date has been partly retyped. Churchill’s salutation and signature are carelessly scrawled. It is not at all inconceivable that Churchill banged it out himself.

January of 1930 found Winston Churchill without political office, for only the third time in twenty-one years. He had turned in his seal as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the wake of the defeat of Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government, and was just back at Chartwell after a three month visit to the United States and Canada. “I want to see the country and to meet the leaders of its fortunes,” he’d written to Bernard Baruch in June of 1929. Not only had Churchill done so – socializing with, among others, Charlie Chaplin and William Randolph Hearst – he’d found himself in the visitor’s gallery of the New York Stock Exchange on “Black Thursday,” as the Stock Market crashed. Attending that night a gathering at Baruch’s Fifth Avenue apartment composed of “forty or more of the leading bankers and financiers of New York” – as Churchill later wrote – he heard a toast delivered to his health begun with the words: “Friends and former millionaires.”

The “Mr. Creditor” addressed here was the personal assistant to Bernard Baruch, who in 1930, was still managing what was left of Churchill’s money. Baruch’s offices were in the Equitable Building, which still stands at 120 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, though Churchill’s “cigar stall” is long gone. A carbon of Mr. Creditor’s charming reply (including a rather learned reference to Churchill’s just-published fourth volume of THE WORLD CRISIS, The Aftermath,) is included here.

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