By BRIAN KRAPF
No other political personality has been as closely identified with cigar smoking as Winston Churchill. His affection for cigars began in 1895 while in Cuba. His favorite brand was Romeo y Julietta, but several regular suppliers kept him well stocked with a variety of Cubans. At Chartwell, Churchill kept between 3000-4000 cigars in a room near his study. They were organized in shelved boxes and labeled “large” or “small” and “wrapped” or “naked” to distinguish whether they were wrapped in cellophane.
The Prime Minister smoking his trademark cigar is an image often found on a variety of wartime Churchilliana. The ashtray set featured here is a terrific wartime item and popular among collectors. It is a piece of Burleighware, the name given to porcelain items produced by Burgess & Leigh. The company was founded in 1851 and still produces beautiful tableware from its factory in Stoke-On-Trent.
At the top is a molded high relief image of Churchill. The ashtray itself includes a removable porcelain cigar, which is designed to be a pipe tamper. Although Churchill was not a pipe smoker, many at the time were, so the set was cleverly designed to accommodate the smoking habits of all tobacco users.
If you find one of these wartime ashtray sets in an antiques stall or a saleroom, be certain to bring it home. It is a unique item that will look great sitting next to your flute of Pol Roger as you remember the Great Man.
Brian Krapf’s forthcoming book We Want Winston!—A Treasury of Memorabilia will be published later this year.
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