Churchill Collectables: A Puzzling Picture
By BRIAN KRAPF
This colorful puzzle measures 8” x 10” and has no identifying manufacturing markings. However, given its caption and graphics, it was obviously made shortly after Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940. Given the subject matter and the positions of the illustrated characters, it can be ascertained that Churchill is Prime Minister, his immediate predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, is still a cabinet member, Mussolini and Italy are in the Axis, and Stalin is still allied with Hitler. One question remains: who is the man standing alongside Churchill?
Prior to the publication of this article, several competent and knowledgeable opinions were solicited. Some believe that the mystery man is Edward F. L. Wood, first Earl of Halifax and Churchill’s first Foreign Secretary, who served from June to December 1940. This makes sense, given that the theme of the puzzle is foreign affairs. A comparison of period photos of Halifax to the illustration, however, bears few if any similarities. Others believe the mystery man is intended to be former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Although Baldwin’s third term of office ended in 1937, his presence can arguably make sense if the intent of the illustration is to portray Churchill confidently striding past his two predecessors to defiantly confront Hitler.
While the man’s identity remains a mystery and the source of competent speculation, thankfully the puzzle itself is not “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It is a fabulous and rare piece of Churchill memorabilia dating from a critical period of wartime history.
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.