Winston & Randolph – a picture and less than 1,000 words

Words were Winston Churchill’s stock-in-trade. And Winston’s words are our own stock-in-trade. But sometimes a photo is worth a proverbial thousand words. This is one.

This February 1950 photo features Winston S. Churchill striding arm-in-arm with his daughter-in-law, June, and son, Randolph, in the constituency Randolph would lose that month to future Labour Leader Michael Foot.

And just in case you still prefer words, this one comes with some.

Inked at the bottom of the image is: “For W. H. Hobbs – Devonport February 1950”.  Below and to the left is the signature of “Winston S. Churchill”. To the right is the signature of “June S. Churchill”, below and to the right of which is the signature of “Randolph S. Churchill”.

This photo is not only striking and particularly noteworthy signed thus, but also a poignant reminder of the disappointments that marked Randolph’s life and his relationship with his father.

Devonport is in the City of Plymouth in the constituency twice unsuccessfully contested by Randolph. His opponent, future Labour Leader Michael Mackintosh Foot (1913-2010), first won the seat in the same July 1945 General Election in which Winston lost his wartime premiership to Labour’s Clement Attlee.  Foot defeated Randolph in the February 1950 General Election by 3,483 votes.  In the General Election of October 1951 – Randolph’s final attempt to return to Parliament – he lost again to Foot (this time by 2,390 votes).  Despite Randolph’s own failure, this same election returned his father’s Conservatives to majority and Winston to 10 Downing Street for his second and final premiership.

Notwithstanding election rivalry, Foot would say: “I belong to the most exclusive club in London; the friends of Randolph Churchill.”  During the 1950 campaign, it would seem that Randolph’s friends were in short supply; it was reportedly Foot and his wife who looked after the rival candidate, sobering him up and seeing him on his train after he had been abandoned by his own party activists. (Morgan, Michael Foot: A Life)  Foot became Labour Party leader in 1980, losing his position when Labour lost the General Election to Thatcher in 1983.

Randolph (1911-1968) had Churchillian gifts which he ultimately failed to fully refine and apply.  British historian Andrew Roberts has said: “Aside from his heroically dismal manners, his gambling, arrogance, vicious temper, indiscretions, and aggression,” Randolph “was generous, patriotic, extravagant and amazingly courageous.”  Randolph dwelt in his father’s shadow and often disappointed him.  Nonetheless, “Winston Churchill never let the sun go down upon his wrath, and when Randolph’s idleness ended in lecture tours and races for Parliament, he lent his support, even when his son’s campaigns were politically unhelpful to him. During World War II, when Randolph served with distinction in North Africa and Yugoslavia, Winston entrusted him with sensitive tasks which he performed with skill and discretion… After the war, Churchill willed his invaluable archive to Randolph; and in 1959, he bestowed the ultimate accolade by inviting Randolph to be his official biographer.” (Richard Langworth) Perhaps symbolically, Randolph completed only the first two volumes before he died in 1968.

June Churchill nee Osborne (1922-1980) was Randolph’s second wife, from 1948-1961.  Their marriage produced Randolph’s second child and only daughter, Arabella.

The photo measures 9.75 x 7.75 inches.  The only notation other than the inscription and signatures of the Churchills is “DAILY GRAPHIC | COPYRIGHT” ink-stamped on the lower right verso.  Interesting to note, it was the Daily Graphic that, in 1895, helped finance a very young Winston Churchill’s first trip as a war correspondent to Cuba by agreeing to accept his letters “for a fee of five guineas each, no mean fee in those days for a first assignment.” (Woods, Winston S. Churchill: War Correspondent 1895-1900)

Provenance of this photo is the family of the recipient, W. H. Hobbs, who served in the Royal Navy with distinction during the Second World War, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, and was reportedly a Plymouth Councilor in 1950 when this photograph was inscribed for him.

Condition of the photo approaches very good, showing light scuffing, trivial blemishes, and minor wear to edges, the verso with spotting and tape residue and minor scarring at corners.

The photo is removably mounted in an 11×14 wood frame with acid-free, archival mat.

We’re pleased to offer this photo for sale HERE.

FDR’s D-Day Prayer

We have the privilege of being able to tell you about a remarkable memento of a remarkable moment in history. This is the limited edition of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer, commissioned from the U.S. Government Printing Office by Roosevelt at his own expense and inscribed by him to his secretary, Dorothy Jones Brady.

The inscription, inked in four lines on the front free endpaper, reads: “For Dorothy | Christmastide, 1944 | from | Franklin D. Roosevelt”.

Per the limitation page, one hundred copies were printed “for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the U.S. Government Printing Office at Washington” in December 1944. This copy is hand numbered “68” of 100.

The Moment

On 6 June 1944, the United States and its WWII allies launched the largest amphibious invasion in history. More than 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen had crossed the English Channel to storm the beaches at Normandy, beginning the campaign that would end with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945.

Roosevelt had addressed America via radio the day before, on the evening of 5 June, about the liberation of the city of Rome by Allied troops: “The first of the Axis capitals is now in our hands. One up and two to go!”

In his national radio address of 6 June, both the situation and the tone were strikingly different. President Roosevelt did not provide a factual report on events, but asked his countrymen to join him in a nearly 600-word prayer he had written himself.

“My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

Roosevelt’s candid recognition suited the perilousness of the undertaking and the uncertainty of the outcome.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest – until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.”

Even in the midst of the most extreme violence, Roosevelt sought to morally delineate the cause of his nation and its Allies from that of its foes. In so framing history’s largest amphibious invasion, Roosevelt drew a clear line between invaders and liberators, and set definitive limits to the scope and duration of military ambition.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. The fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for the return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home – fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them – help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Roosevelt asked his countrymen for patience and resolve, attempting to prepare them for the inevitable hardship and loss that would attend wresting control of continental Europe from Nazi Germany.

Give us strength, too – strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade.”

Interestingly, future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the D-Day invasion, would title his own 1948 war memoirs Crusade in Europe.

“Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment – let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.”

On 7 November 1944, Roosevelt was re-elected President for an unprecedented fourth term. In December, this limited issue of his D-Day prayer was printed “for his friends at Christmastide”.

The Association

This copy of Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer was inscribed by FDR for Dorothy Jones Brady, his White House secretary and stenographer.

Brady began her federal career at the Department of Agriculture secretarial pool. Reassigned to the White House, she became secretary to presidential press secretary Steve Early. After substituting several times for the FDR’s secretary, Grace Tully, Brady accompanied FDR on campaign trips and on visits to his home at Hyde Park. She was with FDR when he died on 12 April 1945, less than a year after D-Day and less than a month before Germany’s 7 May 1945 unconditional surrender.

On 18 January 1945, less than a month after Roosevelt inscribed this copy of his D-Day prayer for Brady and less than three months before he died, Roosevelt was in his west wing office working on a speech with Dorothy Brady, Grace Tully, Samuel Rosenman, and Robert Sherwood. Roosevelt “suddenly stopped, look around, and asked “What in this room reminds you the most of me?” Dorothy Brady named “a portrait of John Paul Jones” who was of course the first well-known American naval commander during the Revolutionary War. The choice was fitting; at the height of his youthful promise, before being crippled by polio, Franklin Roosevelt had served for seven years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, including during the First World War. “When Mrs. Brady returned from the final trip to Warm Springs she found the Jones portrait waiting for her.” (Ferrell, The Dying President)

Brady went on to serve as secretary to cabinet secretaries and assistant to the president of the Pullman railroad car company. She died at age 87 in 1999.

Edition and Condition

In 1935, the president began a Christmas tradition of having addresses or messages by him printed at his own expense by the Government Printing Office. “Most of them are slim quarto volumes bound in boards with gilt lettered backstrips of leather or quarter bound in parchment with a gold-stamped morocco label affixed to the spine. Every copy issued by FDR was numbered and signed by him and as a rule, he also inscribed each book with an appropriate Christmas greeting to the recipient…. The FDR Christmas Books are prime collector’s items, of course, but they fall more within the category of personal and intimate FDR relics or mementos…” (Halter, p.193-4)

The 100 copies of Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer printed in 1944 were the last of FDR’s Christmas books, and arguably the most poignant.

The original fine binding features a quarter vellum spine over marbled paper-covered boards. A gilt-stamped morocco spine label reads: “D-Day Prayer by Franklin D. Roosevelt”. The contents are printed black, blue, and red on laid paper with untrimmed fore and bottom edges and gilt top edge. The prayer is separated into short stanzas, each framed with a red ruled box.

Condition is near fine. The binding is square and tight with sharp corners and almost no wear. We note mild soiling to the spine, notably at the slipcase cutout. The contents show mild age-toning to the page edges and light spotting, primarily to the endpapers. The blank leaf following the text and preceding the limitation page shows some wrinkling and a vertical crease. The name “(Brady)” is written in pencil beside President Roosevelt’s inscription.

The volume is housed in the original blue paper-covered card slipcase. The slipcase is fully intact with modest toning and wear to extremities.

This piece of history is offered for sale HERE.

Naming the world’s tallest mountain

We have just listed a rather remarkable artefact of British colonial presence in India. Mammoth in every sense, this is the 1847, two-volume, first edition of George Everest’s account of his epic survey of the Indian subcontinent. Everest’s survey is the reason why the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, was named for this British geodesist and military engineer.

This elaborate and rare set is a presentation copy in the original binding from the author to the Royal Society of Edinburgh at the behest of the Directors of the East India Company.

Each volume is inscribed on the front free endpaper: “Presented by order of the Court of Directors | of the Hon’ble E. I. Company of Great Britain | to the Royal Society of Edinburgh | By the Author”.

Sir George Everest (1790-1866) joined the East India Company as a cadet and sailed for India in 1806. Engineering successes and proficiency in mathematics and astronomy led to his being appointed chief assistant to the great trigonometrical survey of India in 1817. This survey, dauntingly ambitious on an imperial scale, began in 1802 and “was of international geodetic importance because of its part in determining the figure of the earth.”   Everest’s task was to complete the arc that had begun at the southern tip of India, work which he continued as superintendent after the 1823 death of William Lambton, his predecessor.

Triangulation surveys were based on carefully measured baselines and a series of angles. The initial baseline was measured with great accuracy – a daunting technical and logistical feat in colonial India – since the accuracy of the subsequent survey was critically dependent upon it. The text volume’s frontispiece engraving is of the “Termination of the Calcutta Base Line”. Of note, a significant part of Everest’s work was highly technical in nature and he did not just rely on and reward British ingenuity; Everest “promoted to positions of considerable importance local staff such as the computer Radhanath Sickdhar and the instrument maker Saiyid Mir Mohsin Hussain.” (ODNB)

Everest spent the next two decades intensely committed to the trigonometrical survey. He directly participated in field work, “even though half paralysed from the effects of fever and rheumatism.” When he became too ill to work in the field, Everest returned to England to win support of the East India Company for project completion, to promote scientific interest, and secure improvements in measurement instruments and methods. Everest returned to India in 1830 not only as an elected fellow of the Royal Society and superintendent of the trigonometric survey, but also as surveyor-general of India. Despite further bouts of sickness, “he was able to see the work through to completion in 1841 under Andrew Scott Waugh by which time an arc of more than 21 degrees in length had been measured from Cape Comorin to the northern border of British India.” (ODNB)

In late 1843, Everest retired and returned to England. His 1847 publication of An Account of the Measurement of Two Sections of the Meridional Arc of India earned Everest the medal of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as election as an honorary member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and fellow of the Royal Asiatic and Royal Geographical societies. In 1856, Everest’s name was given by his successor in India, Andrew Waugh, to Peak XV in the Himalayas, the highest summit in the world at 29,029 feet.

Everest’s two-volume work is a magnificently detailed and elaborate publication, rarely seen on the word market and particularly scarce thus – an author’s presentation copy in the original publisher’s bindings.

The handsome original dark blue cloth bindings measure nearly 13 x 10.25 inches, with gilt spine print, blind ruled spine compartments, and blind ruled front cover borders with blind stamped floral motif at corners and center within. The contents are extensively illustrated.

The text volume includes an engraved frontispiece and two plates, illustrations (one with volvelle), and tables (several folding). The Engravings volume includes thirty-two engraved plates, one plate with volvelle, one double-page map, and two enormous folding plan sections. The lower title page of the Engravings volume bears the oval ink stamp of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. We are pleased to offer this magnificent set for sale, HERE.

As a young cavalry officer and war correspondent serving on the northwest Indian frontier at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, future British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill mused “…we wonder whether the traveller shall some day inspect, with unconcerned composure, the few scraps of stone and iron which may indicate the British occupation of India…” (The Story of the Malakand Field Force, 1898, p.139) Everest’s “great vision was to calculate the figure of the earth, comparing his great arc with arcs in higher latitude…” His figure was soon superseded and twentieth century satellite technology has completely changed the method of calculating the figure of the earth. What endures is Everest’s importance “as a man of vision who with immense determination carried out his plan to the limits of precision then possible… and whose achievement was of great importance to contemporary geodesy and to the accurate surveying of India.” (ODNB)

Everest’s name, affixed to the world’s tallest peak – a summit synonymous with both alluring mystique and towering ambition – testifies to the place the Indian subcontinent held in British imagination, ambition, and invention and to an enduring influence greater than any “few scraps of stone and iron.”