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Churchill Collectables: Sir Joseph Porter Statue
By BRIAN KRAPF

Sir Joseph Porter statue

This bisque statue measures three inches tall and depicts Churchill in a Victorian naval officer’s uniform. The piece has no maker’s markings, but the bottom is incised “Sir Joseph Porter.” When I acquired this piece several years ago, I had no idea of who Sir Joseph was. I could not immediately identify him as a British porcelain manufacturer and thought perhaps this unique item was a private commission. Research confirmed the identity of Porter and a very interesting reason for including his name on the piece.

Sir Joseph Porter KCB is the bumbling and inept First Lord of the Admiralty in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore. He is the relentless social climber who obtained his office not through military skill and experience, but through patronage (“I always voted at my party’s call, and I never thought of thinking for myself at all”). Images of Sir Joseph consistently depict him as a much older man; this statue unmistakably depicts a much younger Winston Churchill.

Further research confirmed the connection between WSC and Sir Joseph Porter. After Gallipoli, newspapers compared Churchill to Porter by painting him to appear as an inept, privileged office holder. Surely, only a “Sir Joseph Porter” would make tactical naval decisions resulting in such a disastrous outcome. This bisque statue, therefore, is meant as a parody of WSC and dates to 1915. It is a reminder of public opinion against Churchill in the critical aftermath of Gallipoli.

Brian Krapf formerly served as President of the American Political Items Collectors, which is devoted to the preservation and study of America’s political heritage. He has been honored with APIC’s highest award: induction into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Items from the Krapf collection have been featured in History Channel documentaries and also in major print media publications. He has also served as a national advisor to eBay in the areas of security and fraud detection, and he designed eBay’s current political memorabilia listing categories.

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