October 30, 2021

The World of Churchill Collectables: President of the Board of Trade

When H. H. Asquith became Prime Minister in March, 1908, he promoted Winston Churchill, only 33 years old, to serve as President of the Board of Trade. This was Churchill’s first cabinet-level office, and he would serve until 1910, when he was appointed Home Secretary. It is a nearly impossible but worthwhile endeavor to find items which recognize Churchill’s time at the Board of Trade. Fortunately, Rotary Photographic, Ltd.  produced this postcard of Churchill in March, 1909; it was one of the very few items produced while he occupied this office and was included as part of a small postcard series of important men of the day.  

The postcard features a caricature of Churchill drawn by Harold Smith, a portraitist for The Bystander, a popular weekly tabloid later famous for publishing Bruce Bairnsfather’s “Old Bill” series during the Great War. Early in the Asquith government, Smith executed a series of sketches of prominent politicians of the day, including the Prime Minister himself, Churchill, Sir Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary), R. B. Haldane ( Secretary of State for War), John Burns ( President of the Local Government Board), the Marquess of Lansdowne ( leader of the Unionist Peers in the House of Lords), and George Wyndham (Chief Secretary for Ireland).

This postcard series was produced in a very small quantity. The cards are all recognizable as caricatures by the same artist and thus have similar features and characteristics. Building a complete set would constitute a wonderful challenge. Of course, having just the Churchill card is a rare and terrific artifact from the time of his first cabinet appointment.

Brian Krapf’s book We Want Winston!—A Treasury of Churchill Memorabilia will be published next year.

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