May 24, 2013

Finest Hour 147, Summer 2010

Page 61

Churchilliana – ODD LOTS 1914-1940

Two rarely encountered pieces of bric-a-brac

National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City

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By Douglas Hall


First Lord, 1914

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill was not yet forty years old at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Churchill was recalled from the political wilderness to become First Lord of the Admiralty again when he was almost sixty-five. The two events, a quarter century apart, an event probably unprecedented for the head of a major fighting service, were commemorated in very different styles.

At left above, backstamped “The Rt Hon W S Churchill, W C Lawton, Sculptor, Copyright, September 1914” is a six-inch-tall white Parian bust by Robinson & Leadbeater. (Parian is a fine white biscuit porcelain resembling Greek marble.)

In business from 1864 to 1924, Robinson & Leadbeater devoted themselves exclusively to the manufacture of Parian busts and figures, and were considered one of the very best Parian producers.

In 1939 with Churchill back at the Admiralty, Kirklands of Etruria (also no longer in business) represented Churchill in the classical style on an eight-inch-tall character jug modelled as a ship’s figurehead wreathed in swirls of breaking waves. The artist is unknown, but he or she achieved an excellent likeness of Churchill. There are coloured versions of this jug, probably a trial painting for possible export to the USA, but it is quite unbelievably inferior to the plain white model and probably never went into production.

Two years later, Wilkinsons revived an Admiralty toby they’d put on the shelf when WSC was dismissed in 1915, and it too celebrated the news that “Winston is back.” (See FH 146:36.)

All of these pieces are now very scarce and any would fetch prices that we don’t wish to drive up by speculating here. Check auction and memorabilia sales websites if you are interested in buying or selling.

Australian Rarity, CA. 1941

David Bull of Deakin, ACT, Australia, sent us the photo at upper right, of a hanging likeness encountered at the Melbourne Museum in Victoria. David apologizes for the quality of the image, which had to be shot through a glass case cover. Below the image are crossed British and Australian flags and the legend, “There’ll Always be an England” and “The Dominions.”

No explanation of this Australian ceramic was given beyond that of “Wall plaque, Winston Churchill, 1939-45.” Obviously this is Churchill after he became Prime Minister, but the exact year and manufacturer are not known. This has to be rare outside Australia, and probably inside it as well.

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