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Churchilliana The World of Churchill Collectables: Wartime Napkin


One of the exciting aspects of pursuing and conserving Churchilliana is that it can be found in a variety of forms, including those which are unexpected. The Great Man’s image was used on a variety of items designed to inspire and motivate during wartime and can be found on porcelain, metal, wood, celluloid, and, yes, even a paper napkin.

This Second World War era luncheon-sized paper napkin features the stern and determined image of Churchill, along with the famous V for Victory. The well-known “victory” Morse code pattern serves as the border. This napkin is definitely of the era, since others with patriotic wartime themes are known to exist, including those with images of airplanes, soldiers, ships, and wartime slogans. Similarly, paper coasters and disposable paper cups were produced with wartime themes. These were likely sold in dime stores to add a patriotic theme to a wartime lunch or dinner table, especially if guests were coming over. Despite food being rationed, there was no shortage of patriotic fervor and support for the war effort, Prime Minister Churchill or the men and women serving in uniform.

From a collector’s standpoint, this paper napkin is deceptively rare. Unlike other items designed to sit on a shelf or hang on a wall, it was made to be used once and thrown away. Thankfully, this napkin was placed in a server drawer and buried and forgotten for decades, making it a delightful survivor. This month marks the seventy-sixth anniversary of V-E Day, which makes it perfect for sharing with you this simple tribute.

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

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