Churchill in Chicago – 10 January 1901

We recently discovered a wonderful first edition inscribed during Churchill’s first lecture tour of the United States and Canada. This book has never been offered for sale and was unknown to the collecting community.

This is the U.S. first edition of Churchill’s fifth book, inscribed by Churchill for noted impresario F. Wight Neumann in Chicago on 10 January 1901. The signature, in black ink in four lines on the upper half-title, reads: “Winston S. Churchill | to | F. Wight Neuman Esq. | 10.1.1901”



Unlike so many signed copies, we have provenance going back to the time of signing. The book remained in Neumann’s family for more than a century, until 2003, when ownership transferred from Neumann’s grandson, Sterling E. Selz, to his friend and fellow collector John Patrick Ford, from whom it was acquired by Churchill Book Collector. 

In 1900, Churchill had won his first seat in Parliament partly on the strength of his celebrity as a Boer War hero, having been captured and made a daring escape. Churchill’s lecture tour of the United States and Canada was intended to improve his finances at a time when MPs received no salary.  Churchill arrived in New York on board the Lucania on December 8, 1900.

German-born F. Wight Neumann (1851-1924) was a Chicago-based impresario, “one of the most noted impresarios in America” and “friend of virtually every prominent musician in the country” who “brought all of the great artists of the world to Chicago.”  (Chicago Daily Tribune, 23 October 1924 Obituary)  Neumann emigrated to America in 1877, originally training for a banking career. He came to Chicago in 1884.


Circa 1923, the photo shows, from left to right, F. Wight Neumann, Mrs. Neumann, Sterling Selz, Gladys Selz, and Austin Sell

In addition to an incredible stable of musicians, vocalists, opera companies, orchestras, and conductors, also appearing under Neumann’s management in Chicago were select authors and lecturers, among them the young Winston Churchill.


Arriving in Chicago on the morning of 10 January 1901, Churchill lectured that evening on “The Boer War as I Saw It” at Central Music Hall and was entertained after his lecture by “forty members of the University Club at an informal reception in the club grillroom.”


Churchill’s lecture tour had faced challenges and disappointments, among them smaller audiences and profits than anticipated, a frustrating tour manager, and the “strong pro Boer feeling” among “almost half” of some of his audiences.  (21 December 1900 letter from Churchill to his mother)  By the time of his Chicago lecture, Churchill had apparently found ways to deal with this last problem.  When he displayed an image of “a typical Boer soldier” a gallery spectator hurrahed the Boers and “the cry was taken up by a large part of the audience,” followed by hisses from pro-British listeners.

Churchill deftly responded: “Don’t hiss.  There is one of the heroes of history.  The man in the gallery is right.  No true-hearted Englishman will grudge a brave foe cheers.”  This “put the audience in good humour” and gave Churchill “the considerate attention of his audience.”  (The Chicago Tribune, 11 January 1901)  Churchill’s lecture “was much interrupted with the applause of an audience which comfortably filled the hall.”  At his reception following the lecture, “Mr. Churchill was called on for a speech and replied in a witty recital of the many bonds of union which exist between the English and Americas.”  (The Chicago Tribune, 11 January 1901)

Churchill left the United States for England on 2 January aboard the SS Etruria.  In a lecture tour that had proven both challenging and exhausting, Churchill had met President McKinley, dined with recently elected Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt, and been introduced by Mark Twain.  He had taken his first full measure of the tenor and spirit of the nation that would prove his – and Britain’s – vital partner in the two world wars to come.  While Churchill was abroad, Queen Victoria died, and the end of her 64-year reign also closed Churchill’s Victorian career as a cavalry officer and war correspondent adventurer. Churchill took his first seat in Parliament on 14 February 1901 and began a 60-year career as one of the 20th Century’s great statesmen.

The Edition

Ian Hamilton’s March is Churchill’s fifth public book and the second of Churchill’s two books based on his dispatches sent from the front in South Africa.

In October 1899, the second Boer War erupted in South Africa between the descendants of Dutch settlers and the British. As an adventure-seeking young cavalry officer and war correspondent, Churchill swiftly found himself in South Africa with the 21st Lancers and an assignment as press correspondent to the Morning Post. Not long thereafter – on 18 November 1899, Churchill was captured during a Boer ambush of an armored train. His daring escape less than a month later made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career.

Churchill’s first Boer War book, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, contained 27 letters and telegrams to the Morning Post written between 26 October 1899 and 10 March 1900 and was published in England in mid-May. Ian Hamilton’s March completes Churchill’s coverage of the Boer War, comprising 17 letters to the Morning Post, spanning 31 March through 14 June 1900.

While London to Ladysmith via Pretoria had swiftly published Churchill’s dispatches in the wake of his capture and escape, for Ian Hamilton’s March “the texts of the originally published letters were more extensively revised and four letters were included which had never appeared in periodical form” (Cohen, A8.1.a, Vol. I, p.105). Churchill effected these revisions while on board the passenger and cargo steamer Dunottar Castle which was requisitioned as a troop ship, en route home to England.

Churchill arrived on 20 July 1900 and spent the summer campaigning hard in Oldham, capitalizing on his war status and winning his first seat in Parliament on 1 October 1900 in the so-called “khaki election.”

The narrative in Ian Hamilton’s March includes the liberation of the Pretoria prison camp where Churchill had been held and from which he had famously escaped. The title takes its name from General Sir Ian Hamilton’s campaign from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg and Pretoria. Churchill would maintain a life-long friendship with Hamilton, who would be involved in the Gallipoli landings and to whom Churchill would sell his first country home.

The U.S. first edition saw only a single printing. The number sold is unclear, but seems to be fewer than 1,500. Published on 26 November 1900, the U.S. first edition was thus available for sale when Churchill arrived in New York on 8 December 1900 for his first North American lecture tour.

Like the U.S. first edition of Ladysmith, the U.S. first edition of Ian Hamilton’s March is bound in pebble grain red buckram which proved durable yet susceptible to blotchy wear and discolouration, particularly on the spine.


003371_3The excellent condition of this copy would make it collector-worthy, independent of the author’s signature.

The red cloth binding remains unusually clean and tight, with sharp corners, and bright gilt and only trivial wear to extremities. The spine toning and uneven coloration endemic to this edition is mild. The spine retains excellent color and vivid gilt, with only a barely discernible hint of uniform toning and modest instances of the typical discoloration.003371_6

The contents remain uncommonly bright and crisp. A trace of spotting is confined to the frontispiece tissue guard and the fore edge. The top edge gilt remains bright. Other than the author’s inscription, the sole previous ownership marks we find are a half dozen illegible, tiny pencil script letters at the upper left rear pastedown that we have refrained from erasing just in case some future owner may be able to decipher them.003371_4

The inscription remains clear and bright, with minimal age spreading on a bright and otherwise unmarked half title page. The date is written with European, rather than U.S. precedence, with the month “1” following the day “10” making the date of inscription 10 January 1901. It is interesting to note that Churchill omits the second “n” at the end of Neumann’s name and it appears as if he initially misspelled the name as “Newman, with a bit of extra ink at the “um” transition seeming a possible attempt to correct the spelling error as it was being inked.


Churchill Book Collector becomes a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA)

Joining a trade association is not usually a stimulating and exciting event.  No parades and press announcements.  Nonetheless, Churchill Book Collector is quite excited to announce that we have been invited to join the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA).


The ABAA is the oldest association of professional booksellers in America and not only includes some of the most distinguished names in the book trade, but also supports an admirable array of preservation, education, research, and networking endeavors.

Along with becoming a member of the ABAA, we are now affiliated with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), which links like-minded national bookseller organizations, representing an impressive array of professional booksellers from 32 different nations.

That’s well and good, but why are we so excited?  A few reasons:

First, the high professional and ethical standards we seek to uphold are admirably supported by the ABAA and shared by its members.  You may read more about the mission of the ABAA HERE and the ABAA Code of Ethics HERE.  As any collector knows, there are few things more disappointing than laboring to find and fund just the right acquisition, only to have the experience marred by an inexperienced, unprofessional, or unscrupulous seller.  ABAA members have – and the organization upholds – the highest standards in the book trade.

Second, with ABAA membership we further enhance our ability to serve our customers.  Our inventory of material by and about Winston Churchill is one of the world’s most extensive, with offerings ranging from some of the rarest material offered – including fine first editions and inscribed copies – to reading copies and works about Churchill’s life and time.  We have the good fortune of an excellent reputation in this specialty and a discerning, global clientele.  However,  both our own collecting interests, and those of our customers extend to authors and eras beyond Churchill.  Our inventory has begun to reflect this collecting diversity and will continue to do so in the future.  Our ABAA membership will enhance our ability to help our customers acquire rare and collectible books beyond the Churchill canon.

To those of you who read our blog, our thanks for sharing our passion for the printed word.  To those who have chosen us to help us build your own collections, we look forward to continuing to help worthy books find your shelves.


The Second World War, inscribed in all six volumes to Churchill’s cousin

003275Churchill Book Collector is pleased to present a unique full set of British first editions of The Second World War.

What makes this set unique is that each volume is inscribed to the same recipient – Churchill’s first cousin, Captain Oswald Moreton Frewen. Four of the volumes are inscribed in the year of publication. Moreover, the set includes three letters about the books addressed to Oswald from two of Churchill’s private secretaries on both Chartwell and 10 Downing Street stationery. Oswald not only requested the inscriptions, but cheekily made corrections to this signed set of his books and sent emendations to his cousin.

This is our latest offering from the incredible Frewen family collection. To read more about the collection, please see our January 12th blog post. This post provides full images and details about this set.

The Volumes and Inscriptions

Volume I, The Gathering Storm

The British first edition, first printing. The five line inscription in blue ink on the half title recto reads:

Vol._I_inscription_CropInscribed for

Oswald Frewen


Winston S. Churchill


Beside his own name, in pencil in Oswald’s wrote: “King’s Harbour Master | Scapa Flow | March ’39 to Sept ’42” and beside Churchill’s signature “First Lord of the Admiralty | & | Prime Minister of Britain”. Oswald also made pencil annotations to pages 92 & 582, referencing these annotations on the half-title verso.

Volume II, Their Finest Hour

The British first edition, first printing. The five line inscription in blue ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:

Vol._II_inscription_CropInscribed for






Volume III, The Grand Alliance

The British first edition, first printing. The five line inscription in black ink on the second blank endsheet recto reads:




Winston S. Churchill




Laid in at the Volume III half-title, on Chartewell letterhead, is a letter to Oswald from Churchill’s Private Secretary Cecily Gemmell dated “4 August 1950” (two months after publication):


“Dear Captain Frewen, Mr. Churchill would like to thank you very much for your letter of August 1, and to say how glad he was to inscribe your copy of THE GRAND ALLIANCE, which he has now asked me to return to you.”

Volume IV, The Hinge of Fate

The British first edition, first printing. The five line inscription in black ink on the second blank endsheet recto reads:





Oct 12. 1952



Tipped onto to the first free endpaper is an October 16, 1952 letter on 10 Downing Street stationery from Jock Colville to Oswald:


“You may be interested to know that your two suspected misprints in Volume IV of the Prime Minister’s book have been identified as being big howlers! I have been asked to thank you for spotting them and to tell you that the matter will be investigated and put to right before the next edition.”

Affixed to the front pastedown is the original franked envelope in which the letter was posted to Oswald.


Volume V, Closing the Ring

The British first edition, first printing. The five line inscription in black ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:








On the second blank endsheet verso Oswald copied his lengthy February 17, 1953 letter to Jock Colville, which begins:


“Dear Colville, Emboldened by your charming letter on the “misprints” I noticed in Winston’s Vol. IV I venture, from the worm’s eye view, to remark on Vol. V, but don’t want to bother Winston himself about them:”

Oswald then enumerates a number of emendations, concluding with a complimentary paragraph about the “stimulus on the fighting personnel of his presence” imparted when Winston made “a personal visit to the Front”.

Colville’s reply to Oswald, dated February 18, 1953 and typed on 10 Downing Street stationery, is tipped onto the half title:


“Many thanks for your letter about Volume V. I shall pass on your observations to those who help Mr. Churchill with the preparation of his book and I have no doubt whatever that they will be as much welcomed as were your last comments. It is a great help to have an unpaid but benevolent and rigorous critic!”

Oswald also made annotations in pencil to pages 68, 484, 518 & 551.

Volume VI, Triumph and Tragedy

The British first edition, first printing. The three-line inscription in black ink on the second blank endsheet recto reads:








The Association

Oswald_naval_uniformOswald Moreton Frewen (1887-1958) was first cousin to Winston Churchill.  His mother Clara (1851-1935) was the eldest sister of Churchill’s mother, Jennie (1854-1921).  Oswald was the youngest of three children born to Clara Jerome Frewen and Moreton Frewen.

While Churchill was serving as First Lord of the Admiralty during the First World War, Oswald served in the Navy and was present at every naval engagement in the North Sea. In 1939, the same year that Winston returned to the Government as First Lord of the Admiralty, Oswald returned to the Navy, becoming King’s Harbour master of Scapa Flow. Oswald held this post from March 1939 to September 1942, also playing a role in the Algiers and Normandy landings and finally retiring from the Navy in 1945 with the rank of Captain.

For a fuller biography of Captain Oswald Frewen, please see our January 23rd blog post.

In his retirement years, Oswald read and annotated cousin Winston’s history of the First World War (as detailed in our January 23rd blog post) and kept in touch with his cousin, closely following the publication of Winston’s history of The Second World War.  In 1949, Oswald and his sister Clare were Christmas guests at Chartwell.  (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.498)   On 22 August 1950, Churchill wrote to Oswald about trying to complete the fourth volume: “I have had to give up all my holiday,” he complained, and stated “Volume IV is a worse tyrant than Attlee.”  (Gilbert, Volume VIII, p.548)  As this set attests, Oswald chose to congratulate Winston on his completed volume by sending him corrections!

Oswald had a childless marriage late in life. These books remained within the Frewen family until now, passing eventually to his great-nephew, from whom they came to us.


 “I am one of those horrible readers who deface their books with marginal comments…”

Oswald wrote these words on in the copy of Closing the Ring that is part of this set. Oswald’s comment aptly indicates the condition of this, his remarkable set of The Second World War. This set is exceptional for content rather than condition.


All six original bindings are sound and tight, but scuffed and a bit worn, consistent with the fact that they were diligently read by Churchill’s cousin.  The contents bear modest spotting, mostly confined to page edges.  Top edges are sunned to various shades of pink.  The only remnant of the original dust jackets is the front flap text of the Volume III jacket, affixed to the Volume III front pastedown.  We find no previous ownership marks in the set other than the aforementioned author inscriptions, comments by Oswald, and correspondence from Churchill’s private secretaries.

The set is housed in two stout, dark red cloth slipcases.

Terms & Additional Information

Please inquire with us about availability and terms.

The World Crisis, inscribed by Churchill to his Aunt and annotated by his Cousin

“This is not journalism; it is falsification of History. 

Winston has very obviously made history in two wars,

made mistakes, made successes, made history,

but as a writer of history he is unreliable, partisan & distortionist.”


Churchill’s first cousin, Captain Oswald M. Frewen,

excerpt from annotations to 1916-1918, Part I., page 157


Churchill Book Collector is pleased to present an extraordinary set of The World Crisis, Churchill’s history of the First World War. Each of the five books (the 1916-1918 book was issued in two volumes) is inscribed in the year of publication by Churchill to his Aunt Clara. The books passed to Clara’s son and Churchill’s first cousin Captain Oswald Frewen, a career naval officer who served under Churchill’s leadership as First Lord of the Admiralty during both the First and Second World Wars. Of note to both collectors and scholars, Oswald added extensive, expert, and highly critical annotations to the set, focused on the Battle of Jutland and naval and civilian leadership.

This is our latest offering from the incredible Frewen family collection. To read more about the collection, please see our January 12th blog post.

Of course only one collector or institution will be able to purchase this set, but its singularity warrants sharing with a broader audience. Hence this lengthy post, which includes details about the inscriptions, the annotations, edition, and condition, as well as biographical sketches of Churchill’s Aunt Clara and Cousin Oswald.

The Volumes and Inscriptions

Volume I, 1911-1914

The first edition, second printing. The second printing was actually ordered before publication of the first printing (April 10, 1923) and printed only three days after publication of the first printing (on 13 April, 1923). The four-line inscription in black ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:1911-1914_inscription_CROPPED

 To Aunt Clara



June 1. 1923

Volume II, 1915

The first edition, first printing, inscribed three days prior to publication (October 30, 1923). The five-line inscription in black ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:1915_inscription_CROPPED





With best love

Oct 27. 1923.

Volume III, 1916-1918, Part I.

The first edition, first printing, inscribed two days prior to publication (March 3, 1927). The five-line inscription in black ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:1916-18_Part_1_inscription_CROPPED




With best love.


Volume III, 1916-1918, Part II.

The first edition, first printing, not inscribed, as Parts I & II were published together as a single book in two volumes.

Volume IV, The Aftermath

The first edition, first printing, inscribed six days prior to publication (March 7, 1929). The five-line inscription in black ink on the second free endpaper recto reads:Aftermath_inscription_CROPPED





1 Mar 1923

Volume V, The Eastern Front

The first edition, first printing, inscribed early in the month of publication (November 1931, specific day of publication unknown). The five-line inscription in black ink on the half-title recto reads:Eastern_Front_inscription_CROPPED





Nov 6. 1931

Captain Frewen’s Annotations

“Passed to her son Oswald Frewen, navigating officer of HMS COMUS, Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron, at Jutland, and in 1919 principal assistant to Capt. J. E. T. Harper, the author of the Jutland Report. Harper was chosen as a senior officer, specialised in navigation, who had served directly neither under Beatty nor Jellicoe, so as to preclude bias…. fearing the worst, I have left the book unread on my shelves for 20 years, & have only tackled it after renewal of my 1919-acquired knowledge of the Battle in further study.


                                                Sept. 3rd ’47”

This excerpt is taken from the incredible 500+ word prelude to Captain Oswald Frewen’s annotations that immediately follows the author’s inscription to his Aunt (and Oswald’s mother) in the first 1916-1918 volume.1916-18_Part_1_inscription_&_Annotations_CROPPED

Captain Frewen’s extensive annotations appear throughout the two 1916-1918 volumes and run to thousands of words. These annotations are remarkably informed and informative, sharply critical, and compellingly interesting.

Showing throughout all of his annotations is Captain Frewen’s clear and partisan admiration for Jellicoe and dismissive loathing of Beatty. At points, Captain Frewen’s critiques of Winston’s assertions echo the traditional derisiveness of one service branch for another (Frewen a career Naval officer, Churchill’s military career spent in the cavalry and then briefly as an infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the trenches during the First World War). One sample among many: “I am afraid, even from the calm cool armchair, obscured by nothing more than cigar smoke, Winston emerges as a very 8th rate Admiral whatever he may have been as Lieut. of Horse or Col. of Infantry.” Moreover, some of Oswald’s sarcasm and sniping can easily be attributed to the jealousy of a cousin toward the relentlessly eclipsing lodestar that was Winston Churchill.1916-18_Part_1_Frewen_notes_Close_Cropped

Nonetheless, Oswald participated in every naval engagement in the North Sea during the First World War, after the war helped the Admiralty prepare the official history of Jutland, and during the Second World War he served as King’s Harbour Master of Scapa Flow. His annotations are, at points, remarkably specific and appear highly informed.

Oswald’s comments are not without some expressed admiration for his Cousin Winston’s gifts – both literary and as a leader. And tempering the sharp criticism is the knowledge that Oswald actively sought – and received – his Cousin’s Winston’s inscriptions in books that Oswald read and annotated until Oswald’s death in 1958. The Frewen collection includes the entire six-volume history, The Second World War, (published between 1948 and 1954) inscribed to Oswald with his suggested edits, as well as volumes of Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (published between 1956 and 1958) inscribed to Oswald.

Page_133 Page_141

A final consideration is the fact that, according to the Frewen family, Oswald’s own 1916 diary “is considered to be part of the United Kingdom’s national archives because of his description of the Battle of Jutland,” with a claim upon the volume made by the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth, England.

In sum, it would seem inappropriate to dismiss Captain Frewen’s annotations as simply partisan or jealous. They make this set not just a prized association copy, but also a relevant and unique piece of history.

In recognition of that significance, we have transcribed the entirety of Captain Frewen’s annotations. The verbatim transcription, location description, and context of each comment within the text runs to 22 typed pages. We will provide this transcription upon request to interested parties, including scholars and prospective buyers.

The Associations

We include biographic sketches of both Churchill’s Aunt Clara, to whom the volumes were originally inscribed, and her son, Churchill’s first cousin Oswald, who inherited and annotated the set.

Clarita Jerome Frewen

ClaraClarita “Clara” Jerome Frewen (1851-1935) was the eldest of the three famous Jerome sisters. Middle sister Jeanette “Jennie” Jerome (1854-1921) became Lady Randolph Churchill and mother to Winston Churchill. Youngest sister Leonie Blanche Jerome (1859-1943) became Lady Leslie, wife of Sir John “Jack” Leslie, an Anglo-Irish baronet.

Clara’s father, Leonard Jerome (1817-1891), was a wealthy New York stock speculator, sportsman, and patron of the arts. Clara’s mother, Clarissa Hall, was an orphaned heiress who in the 1860s quitted New York to take her daughters to Paris, where they spent formative years at the court of Napoleon III. Blond, blue-eyed Clara made her debut before the Franco-Prussian war sent the Jerome women to England. There Jennie and Clara caused sensation, wearing matching gowns to society parties, playing after-supper piano duets, and acquiring a reputation for wit and beauty.Clara_&_Jennie_in_matching_dresses

Jennie’s marriage in 1873 to the son of the Duke of Marlborough both produced Winston Churchill and introduced sisters Clara and Leonie to aristocratic England, from which their own marriages would ensue.

In 1881, Clara, described as “dreamy” and “fey,” married Moreton Frewen (1853-1924), “a dashing, handsome sportsman from a distinguished Sussex family” and “a younger son with no money” who “tried relentlessly but unsuccessfully to translate his good looks and riding prowess into a fortune.” (Kehoe, Fortune’s Daughters, p. xxi) Moreton was undeniably brave, magnetic, and even visionary, but expensive tastes and wild schemes were his undoing; he would amass a lifetime of financial failures, earning the family nickname “Mortal Ruin.”

It was Uncle Moreton who famously edited Winston Churchill’s first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, with the same diligence and good fortune he applied to his finances. The result was a profusion of spelling and detail errors that incensed his nephew and resulted in later states of the work bearing lengthy errata slips.

Clara_with_her_three_childrenThree children were born to Clara and Moreton – Hugh (1883-1967), Clare (1885-1970), and Oswald (1887-1958).

Despite a “fluttery appearance” and penchant for living a lifestyle her means could never support, Clara “could display a mule-like determination” and seemed to genuinely love her husband. Clara found a form of peace at Brede Place, her and Moreton’s home in East Sussex, which they managed, barely, to keep afloat, partly via loans exacted by Moreton from their children.Brede_Place_&_garden_crop

It is a measure of Clara’s odd social grit and the financial charade of her and Moreton’s life that when bailiffs came to Brede Place in 1908 she paid one of them “ten shillings to answer the door and polish the mirrors.” (Kehoe, Fortune’s Daughters, p.255) In that year, Clara saw her personal possessions auctioned to pay creditors, and it was only the largesse of family and friends that saw some purchased and returned to her.

After a lengthy illness and infirmity, Moreton died in 1924. Clara would remain at Brede Place – despite the terrible financial pressures it imposed on her and her family – until an August 1933 heart attack forced her into a nursing home, where she died on 20 January 1935.

Upon her death, the notice in the Peterborough column of the Daily Telegraph said of Clara: “Mrs. Frewen never took quite the same prominent place in society as her more brilliant sisters. She was, however, a well-known figure in the political and social circles of her time.”

Her nephew, Winston, was “ever considerate to his aunt.” At his mother’s funeral, even in distress Churchill showed kindness to Clara; he “sought her out in the train, made sure that she was given precedence on arrival, and later took the time to show her round the gardens at Blenheim.” In May 1930, Churchill came to tea at Brede Place and “to Clara’s delight, planted a tree in her ‘celebrity’ tree grove.” (Kehoe, Fortune’s Daughters, p.354-5)

The day before she died, Clara wrote to Churchill: “Darling Winston, I want to tell you I did so love your dear letter and know it was your own hand – & know it was your very own right hand that touched that paper. My old heart goes out to you. I have loved you ever since you were a baby and my blessing and peace be upon your darling head.” (Gilbert, Companion Volume V, Part 2, p.1035-6) Churchill wrote to his wife on 23 January 1935: “Poor old Clara died at 82 last Friday. Advised in time by Oswald, I wrote her a letter of affection which reached her on her last day… She was a vy good woman, who had much unhappiness; she was devoted to my Mamma & hence to me.” (Gilbert, Companion Volume V, Part 2, p.1042)

Winston Churchill dutifully inscribed first edition copies of his books to Clara over the course of three decades, from his earliest works into the 1930s, just prior to her death.

Captain Oswald Moreton Frewen

Oswald Moreton Frewen (1887-1958) was first cousin to Winston Churchill (1874-1965). His mother Clara (1851-1935) was the eldest sister of Churchill’s mother, Jennie (1854-1921). Oswald was the youngest of three children born to Clara Jerome Frewen and Moreton Frewen.

Oswald shared many attributes with his famous cousin – among them a vigorous individualism, a deep-seated contrariness, humor and charm, a sense of adventure, courage, and a great facility for words. Where he differed was in either a dislike or discomfort with society, “excusing his reluctance with a kindly contempt for its vanities.”

Midshipman_Oswald_Frewen_1906These similarities and differences play out in the relative trajectories of Oswald and Winston. Winston began as a military officer and war correspondent, which he parlayed into historic careers in politics and as an acclaimed author. Oswald was “a naval officer first and a barrister second, and by inclination an independently minded square peg who moved with great charm and courage from one round hole to the next…” Oswald “employed his own considerable talents with the pen principally by writing a diary” which ran to a remarkable 55 volumes over the course of his life. (Sailor’s Soliloquy, Preface by G.P. Griggs, p.9) In fact, Oswald’s obituary in The Times described him as “the most indefatigable diarist of his generation.”Oswald's_1910_Diary

Oswald himself observed the “streak of pertinacity and persuasiveness in the Jeromes which at crisis accomplishes much” and noted that this streak “became apparent to the world… in… Winston.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, p.18) Oswald and Churchill may have shared a “disregard for any conventional method of going about things” but where Churchill met disappointment and opposition with willful defiance, Oswald was less compelled to impose his own will and more inclined to “look at the funny side of things and laugh at a world which won’t always laugh with me.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, p.14)

This pervasive perspective of the outsider is echoed in Oswald’s own comments about his famous cousin: “One of my earliest recollections is of a visit to Banstead manor near Newmarket which my Aunt Jennie had taken. She invited us three children to go and stay with her two, Winston and Jack. My brother Hugh, three years older than I, palled up with the Churchills, and these three elders herded apart and referred to my sister Clare and me, slightly and condescendingly, as ‘the little ones’. In my infant eyes Winston’s dozen years’ excess of life over mine made him seem avuncular rather than cousinly, a kind of early hall-mark which I have never been able to eradicate.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, p.13)

Oswald attended Eton and then joined the Royal Navy in 1902, his “first and only love in the realm of vocation.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, Concluding Note by Leigh Holman, p.246) Oswald would be present in every naval engagement in the North Sea during the First World War and, after the war, serve for a period at the Admiralty assisting preparation of the official naval history of the war. Nonetheless, Oswald’s naval career was perhaps limited by “an instinctive mistrust of all those in authority in the Service, Lords Charles Beresford and Jellicoe excepted.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, Concluding Note by Leigh Holman, p.246)

Oswald left the Navy as a Commander in 1922 to pursue careers variously in the law and journalism. When Oswald decided to apply for the Bar, Winston was asked to provide a character reference. “Oswald had left a section of his reference form blank and, to his delight, Winston added the statement: ‘He is my first cousin & I have been in close touch with him continuously. He was a good officer in the Royal Navy and present at several actions, writes well, & has shewn himself a good & devoted son.’ (Fortune’s Daughters, Elisabeth Kehoe, p.347)

Nonetheless, the law was a bust for Oswald. Consistent with his streak of restless Frewen contrarianism, the law’s “daily grind of doing long and boring pleadings for his Master… had no charms for him.” His close friend Leigh Holman later wrote of Oswald: “His four years at the Bar were lean indeed for him, but a glorious light relief to the rest of us in the Chambers who were trying to work but always willing to be entertained.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, Concluding Note by Leigh Holman, p.246)Oswald_&_Clare_on_motorbike

Journalism perhaps suited Oswald’s adventurous side and his interest in “the failings and shortcomings of all those in authority, particularly if they were public concerns.” (Sailor’s Soliloquy, Concluding Note by Leigh Holman, p.245) Perhaps most notably, Oswald was able to combine his sense of adventure, his love of motorbikes, and his close bond with his turbulently flamboyant sister Clare, during a 1924 trip across Europe to Russia, with Clare in his sidecar. Nonetheless, adventure did not translate to a reliable career. Oswald “managed to generate some income through his writing, but it was insufficient to run the household.” (Fortune’s Daughters, Elisabeth Kehoe, p.352)

Oswald would notably return to active service in 1939. The same year that Winston returned to the Government as First Lord of the Admiralty, Oswald returned to the Navy as King’s Harbour Master of Scapa flow, a post he held from March 1939 to September 1942, also playing a role in the Algiers and Normandy landings and finally retiring from the Navy in 1945 with the rank of Captain.

The_SheephouseThat same year, Oswald married Lena Marson Spilman (1902-1988). They would spend the rest of Oswald’s life at his beloved home, “The Sheephouse” in Brede, East Sussex, an old sheep barn on 100 acres that he purchased in 1928 and converted into an Elizabethan half-timbered cottage. (It was in this house as Oswald’s guest that Laurence Olivier proposed to Vivian Leigh, who, along with her previous husband, was a friend of Oswald.) Oswald died in 1958.

The Edition

 The World Crisis is Churchill’s history of the First World War, originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931.

The first four volumes comprise the history of the war years 1911-1918 and were published between 1923 and 1927. Two supplemental volumes followed in 1929 and 1931. These were The Aftermath, covering the years 1918-1928, and The Eastern Front, which Churchill initially proposed as “separate from but supplementary to our five volume history”, intended to describe in greater detail “the course of events in the Eastern theatre” (Cohen, Vol. I, p.234).

Of The World Crisis, Frederick Woods wrote, “The volumes contain some of Churchill’s finest writing, weaving the many threads together with majestic ease, describing the massive battles in terms which fitly combine relish of the literary challenge with an awareness of the sombre tragedy of the events.” Churchill was in a special position to write this history, having served both in the Cabinet and on the Front.

Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, but after the failure in the Dardanelles and the slaughter at Gallipoli, he was scapegoated by his peers, betrayed by his Prime Minister, and hounded by the Conservatives. Churchill would go from the Cabinet to the Front, serving as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches.

By the war’s end, Churchill was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government, but the stigma of the Dardanelles would linger. Churchill wrote his history of the First World War in part to clear his name and reputation, but the six volume masterwork he produced far exceeds this purpose.

The U.S. is the true first edition, as U.S. publication of Volume I (6 April 1923) preceded the British (10 April 1923). Nonetheless, the British first edition is prized. The British first edition was more uniform in appearance, with identical dark blue cloth bindings. Many consider the British edition aesthetically superior to the U.S., with its larger volumes and shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. There were multiple printings of each volume of the British first edition, with various small differences to bindings, content, and dust jackets.


 “I am one of those horrible readers who deface their books with marginal comments…”

Oswald wrote these words on February 17, 1953, on the first free endpaper of his copy of Winston’s fifth Volume of The Second World War. Oswald addressed his comments to Jock Colville, Churchill’s Private Secretary, to whom he was sending the book both with suggested edits and in order to receive it back with his cousin Winston’s signature. Winston obliged.

This comment from Oswald aptly indicates the condition of this remarkable set of The World Crisis he inherited from his mother, and subsequently read and heavily annotated.

Spines_CroppedThis set is in sound, original, unrestored condition, with the original bindings all firm and intact, but is certainly well short of fine and is obviously to be prized far more for provenance and content than for condition.

Five of the six volumes are first edition, first printing (most having been inscribed by the author to his Aunt Clara prior to publication. Volume I, the 1911-1914 volume, is first edition, second printing. As noted above, the second printing of Volume I was actually ordered before publication of the first printing (April 10, 1923) and printed only three days after publication of the first printing (on 13 April, 1923).

The blue cloth bindings are all square and tight, but show some of the scuffing endemic to the smooth navy cloth and slight wear to extremities. Additionally, we note the following: very slight outward warping to the 1915 volume boards; a pull and some minor fraying at the head of the 1915 volume spine; minor blistering of The Aftermath cloth (to which this particular volume was prone) on the upper front cover and lower right of the spine; some minor discoloration spots to The Eastern Front front cover and a wrinkle (binding error rather than blistering) in the upper rear cover cloth.

Page_Edges_CroppedThe contents of all six volumes show the spotting to which this edition proved vulnerable. Spotting is substantially confined to the page edges and first and final leaves, the heaviest instance within the set observed on the inscribed page of the 1915 volume. We note no previous ownership marks beyond the author’s inscriptions and Captain Frewen’s annotations.

The set is housed in a navy cloth slipcase with gilt print and decoration on the right side.

DSCN1385Bibliographic reference: Cohen A69.2(I).d, A69.2(II).a, A69.2(III-1).a, A69.2(III-2).a, A69.2(IV).a, A69.2(V).a.; Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105

Terms and Additional Information

Please inquire with us about availability and terms, or for a full transcription and additional information about the remarkable annotations.


Churchill Book Collector

A stunning collection of Churchill inscriptions to family members, never before offered to collectors

Clara_with_her_three_childrenChurchill Book Collector is pleased to announce that we will begin offering items from the incredible Frewen family collection.

The Frewen collection features inscribed copies of Churchill’s books spanning more than half a century, from 1906 to 1958, and three generations of Churchill’s relatives on his mother’s side, including his Aunt Clara and her descendents.  The collection is noteworthy not only for inscribed first editions, but also for accompanying correspondence and annotations.

The collection has remained in the Frewen family until now, providing both sterling provenance and a unique opportunity for collectors.

Individual family members to whom volumes are inscribed include the following:

  • ClaraChurchill’s Aunt Clara.  Clarita “Clara” Jerome Frewen (1851-1935) was the eldest of the three famous Jerome sisters.  Clara married Moreton Frewen (1853-1924), who earned the family nickname “Mortal Ruin” for his lifetime of financial failures.  Churchill collectors may also recognize Moreton as the famously slipshod editor of Churchill’s first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force.  Clara’s sister Jeanette “Jennie” Jerome (1854-1921) became Lady Randolph Churchill and mother to Winston Churchill.  Youngest sister Leonie Blanche Jerome (1859-1943) became Lady Leslie, wife of Sir John “Jack” Leslie, an Anglo-Irish baronet.
  • Clare_SculptingChurchill’s first cousin Clare Sheridan.  The tempestuous and talented sculptress and writer Clare Consuelo Frewen Sheridan (1885-1970) was “the nearest thing to a sister that Winston ever had.”  Clare was the middle of three children born to Clara  and Moreton.  Clare was the only girl among the eight children born to the three famous Jerome sisters.
  • Midshipman_Oswald_Frewen_1906Churchill’s first cousin Oswald Frewen.  Career naval officer, sometime journalist, and prolific diarist Captain Oswald Moreton Frewen (1887-1958) was the youngest of three children born to Clara and Moreton.  Oswald was present for every naval engagement in the North Sea during the First World War, helped the Admiralty prepare the official naval history of the First World War, and served as King’s Harbour Master at Scapa Flow during the Second World War.
  • Lena Frewen, wife of Churchill’s first cousin Oswald Frewen.  Lena Marson Spilman Frewen (1902-1988) married Oswald Frewen in 1945.  They would spend the rest of Oswald’s life at his beloved home (“The Sheephouse”) in Brede, East Sussex.
  • Roger_FrewenRoger Frewen, Churchill’s godson and first cousin once removed.  Roger d’Hauteville Moreton Frewen (1914-1972) was the son of Churchill’s first cousin, Hugh Frewen (1883-1967) who was the eldest child of Clara and Moreton Frewen. Roger served the Foreign Office before, during, and after the Second World War.

Here are some highlights from the Frewen collection:

  • Lord Randolph Churchill, the British first edition of Churchill’s biography of his father, inscribed in the year of publication to Churchill’s Aunt Clara in the first volume and signed in the second volume.
  • The World Crisis, a full set of six British first editions, each inscribed in the year of publication to Churchill’s Aunt Clara, and having passed in turn to Clara’s son and Churchill’s first cousin Captain Oswald Frewen, bearing his quite extensive and highly critical annotations on Churchill’s interpretation of the Battle of Jutland and naval leadership, including Admiral Jellicoe.
  • My Early Life, the British first edition, first printing of Churchill’s autobiography, inscribed and dated to Churchill’s Aunt Clara six days prior to publication.
  • My Early Life, the British first edition, first printing of Churchill’s autobiography, inscribed and dated in the year of publication to Churchill’s godson, Roger Frewen.
  • The Gathering Storm, the U.S. first edition (and true first edition, preceding the British) of the first volume of Churchill’s history of The Second World War, inscribed and dated less than a month after publication to Churchill’s first cousin Clare Sheridan.
  • The Second World War, full set of British first editions, each inscribed and dated by Churchill to Oswald, bearing several instances of correspondence between Oswald and Jock Colville referencing Oswald’s suggested corrections to the text of several volumes (included as annotations in the volumes which he cheekily sent to Churchill for signature and then received back, inscribed).
  • A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, the British first edition, first printing of Churchill’s sweeping four-volume history and last great work, signed by Churchill in the first two volumes with correspondence from both Churchill and Churchill’s Private Secretary to Oswald Frewen, Churchill’s first cousin, as well as a gift inscription to Oswald from his wife.
  • Painting as a Pastime, the U.S. first edition, first printing, inscribed by Churchill to his first cousin Oswald’s wife, Lena.
  • Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900, the British first edition, first printing of Churchill’s Official biography, inscribed by the author Randolph S. Churchill to Roger Frewen.
  • My Early Life and Great Contemporaries, finely bound marriage gifts from Churchill to Roger Frewen inscribed and dated to him “on his marriage.”

We will be offering items from this singular collection over the next several months; watch for our forthcoming emails. If you are not on our confidential contact list, now would be a good time to join. Click HERE.

Please note that a number of items from the Frewen collection will also be featured by us at the Pasadena Book Fair held on January 31 and February 1 at The Pasadena Center in Pasadena, California.  If you are able to attend, please ask us for complimentary tickets.

We look forward to making this wonderful collection available to Churchill enthusiasts, collectors, and scholars for the first time.


An Extraordinary Copy of Churchill’s First War Speeches Volume

Recently we were privileged to acquire a truly singular copy of the U.S. first edition of the first volume of Churchill’s war speeches. This copy is signed by fifty-one individuals, including the former King of England, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, Clementine Churchill, a who’s who of British Wartime leadership, and dozens of wartime pilots of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and Royal Air Force (RAF) who piloted the aircraft bearing these and other British leaders during and following the Second World War.


We are pleased to offer this book for sale. However, the story of this remarkable book is far too long to tell in a simple listing description. And it is a story we just have to tell. So we are writing about this wonderful book in this *very* long blog post, complete with dozens of images. We hope you enjoy learning about this book as much as we have.

The signed book is accompanied by a framed photo of former King Edward signing this very book, as well as a number of documents attesting to provenance, including vintage photographs and newspaper clippings, correspondence, notes, a calendar page, and a receipt.

We provide an extensive description of the book, its provenance, and its accompanying documents, as well as biographic information on each of the noteworthy signatures identified.

The signatures

There are a total of fifty-one signatures on four different pages within the book. Among them we have identified thirteen noteworthy wartime figures. Presumably many of the remainder are BOAC pilots. Likely there are more as-yet undeciphered names of historic significance among the fifty-one.

The earliest dated signature is December 1941, the month of the attack on Pearl Harbor and formal entry of the United States into the Second World War. Correspondence accompanying the book indicates the final signature occurred in January 1953.

On the frontispiece:


  • Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, Prime Minister 1955-1957
  • Baroness Clementine Ogilvy Spencer-Churchill
  • Sir Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister 1940-1945 & 1951-1955
  • Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount of Alamein
  • Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Cotesworth Slessor

On the title page:


  • Former King Edward VIII, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor
  • Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke
  • Field Marshal Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, Viceroy of India
  • Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill
  • Air Marshal Sir Roderic Maxwell Hill
  • Air Marshal Sir Robert Owen Jones
  • Sir Albert Henry Self
  • Colonel Sir Edmund Vivian Gabriel
  • Twenty three additional signatures, one dated December 1941, two dated 1944, many, if not all, ostensibly those of pilots.

On the second half-title, following the Introduction:


  • Fourteen signatures, ostensibly those of pilots, two specifying “R.A.F.”

On the rear pastedown:


  • Arthur C. V. Hostler, with “B.E.F. Sept 1914 – May 1917.” directly below in the same hand. Ostensibly, “B.E.F.” is British Expeditionary Force, indicating Hostler’s service in the First World War.

Collection of the signatures

Arthur C. V. Hostler, M.B.E. (Civil Division, appointed 18 December 1945) was the original owner of this book and collected the remarkable array of signatures therein. Hostler was in a special position to be in contact with such a great number of wartime leaders and pilots.

During the Second World War, Hostler was a member of the British Air Commission, serving the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) in Washington D.C. The British Air Commission delegation to Washington was charged with arranging purchase of American aircraft and aircraft components to fulfill Royal Air Force needs.

After the War, Hostler was employed by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in New York. The BOAC was formed in 1939 and, throughout the Second World War until 1946, was the nationalized airline of Great Britain. BOAC operated under the direction of the Secretary of State for Air, with no requirement to act commercially. After the War, between 1946 and 1974, BOAC operated all long-haul British flights. Hence, during the Second World War and for a number of years thereafter, it was common for British civil and military leaders to travel on BOAC flights.

Hostler’s BOAC business card is stapled to the front free endpaper. The documents accompanying the signed book include a copy of a 20 January 1953 letter from Hostler to Elizabeth Gilliat, Secretary to Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, thanking Ms. Gilliat for securing Churchill’s signature of the book. Hostler wrote:


Dear Miss Gilliat;

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your kindness in offering to present my book “Blood, Sweat and Tears” to the Prime Minister for autographing.

I was more than pleased when the book was returned to me by Mr. Charles Clayton with the information that the Prime Minister had autographed this book.

If and when the opportunity arises, I shall be grateful if you will, on my behalf, thank the Prime Minister for honoring me with his signature as I now feel this book is complete and will remain a great memento of my service with the British Air Commission (M.A.P.) in Washington during the war years when I had the pleasure of seeing the Prime Minister on two occasions when he visited Washington.

Anytime you are on this side of the Atlantic and I can be of service to you in any way, please do not hesitate to communicate with me.

I am,

Sincerely yours,

Arthur C. V. Hostler

Indications are that the book was signed in January 1953 during Churchill’s visit to the United States and Jamaica via a request made by Hostler to Miss Gilliat. See further documentation below.

Documents accompanying the book

In addition to the copy of the letter to Churchill’s Secretary, documents accompanying the book include the following:

  • A British Overseas Airways Corporation receipt originating at “N.Y. Int’L A’port” and dated “Jan. 23 1953” for the letter sent to Churchill’s Secretary, Elizabeth Gilliat.


  • A double-sided daily journal page apparently in Hostler’s hand from Thursday , January 22 and Friday, January 23, 2953, reading in part:

[Thursday, January 22, 1953] “…Had to get “Constellation” | ready for Churchill in | Montego Bay. | Got curtains from [indecipherable] | Roll away cots from | Seymour Hotel & had Asher | help put up curtains, etc.


[Friday, 23 January, 1953] “Winston Churchill & Mrs. Churchill | & Capt & Mrs. Soames arrived | 7:30 am from Montego Bay. | Came in office & then left by motorcade with British | Ambassador & Consul General | for the “Queen Mary” sailing | today. | Everything smooth – good | trip etc. | Saw Miss Gilliatt again & | bought [indecipherable] for her & | sent them to Jones [indecipherable] | to forward.”


Note: Churchill left Britain aboard the Queen Mary on December 31, 1952, accompanied by his wife, daughters Sarah and Mary as well as Mary’s husband, and Sir Roger Makins, newly appointed ambassador to Washington. Queen Mary docked in New York on the morning of January 5, 1953. By January 7, 1953 Churchill was in Washington to meet with Secretary of State-designate John Foster Dulles. On January 8, 1953 Churchill departed Washington on a flight (presumably BOAC) to Jamaica. On the morning of January 23, 1953, Churchill departed Montego Bay for New York via another BOAC flight (referenced in the calendar page above) for New York, departing that afternoon on the Queen Mary.

  • A September 3, 1954 postcard (picturing Churchill in regalia) from Hostler to his wife, Alice.


  • A 1954 Christmas card to “Jeanette” (Jeanette Hostler, wife of Arthur Hostler) from “Alice” (Alice Makins, nee Alice Brooks Davis) the wife of British Ambassador in Washington Roger Makins. The cover features a photo of Churchill and Sir Roger Makins at the British Embassy, Washington, taken on June 29, 1954, by “Leading Aircraftsman J. A. Davis.” The autographed note from Alice to Jeanette, apparently alluding to the trip on which Hostler’s postcard to Alice was sent, reads in part:

Dear Jeanette, | Thanks for the Card & note. | How interesting about Arthur’s | visit to England. Wish I | had known he was going….”


  • A photograph of Hostler on a dock with a BOAC flying boat in the background. Inked on the back of the photo is: “B.O.A.C. | Baltimore | 1947 | A. C. V. Hostler.”


  • A photo of Churchill on the Washington, D.C. British Embassy steps. Inked on the back of the photo is: “May 1943”. In pencil below is: “on Embassy steps | Wash DC”.


  • A typed “Speech by Field Marshal Sir John Dill to the Overseas Press Club of America at New York on 26th February 1942.” The speech is 10 numbered pages, age-toned and brittle, fastened by a rusted and clearly contemporary paperclip that has stained the pages. Just two months prior Dill had been sacked as Chief of the Imperial General Staff by Churchill and narrowly escaped political exile by becoming head of the joint staff mission and senior British member of the combined chiefs of staff, as well as personal representative of the minister of defense, in Washington, D.C.


  • A handwritten partial list on lined paper, apparently in Hostler’s hand, naming twenty-two of the fifty individuals who signed his copy of Blood Sweat and Tears


  • A photograph of former King Edward VIII, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, holding a book and flanked on the right by an unidentified figure in uniform and an unidentified civilian on the left. The back of the photograph is printed: “Photograph by | Sidney Barnett 1651 Fuller St. | Washington DC.”


  • A photograph of former King Edward VIII, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, speaking, flanked on either side by seated civilians. The back of the photograph is printed: “Photograph by | Sidney Barnett 1651 Fuller St. | Washington DC.”


  • Various contemporary newspaper clippings.

The framed photograph

Accompanying the book is a framed photograph of former King Edward VIII, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor signing this copy of Blood Sweat and Tears. Edward is centered in the photo, his right hand holding a pen and resting on the title page where he signed. The lower right of the photo states “copyright Oct. 1943” and the surrounding mat is hand captioned “H.R.H. The Duke of Windsor | Washington D.C. Oct. 1943.”


Both the title page and frontis page are visible, indicating that some of the title page signatures preceded that of Edward, while all of the frontis page signatures came later.

The matted photograph measures 9.25 x 7.25 inches. The sealed frame appears contemporary to the photograph and measures 13 x 11.75 inches. As indicated on the frame’s rear backing, the framing was done in Baltimore. The unexceptional frame is black wood with gilt inner edge, the mat tan.

The edition

Blood Sweat and Tears is the first volume of Churchill’s famous war speeches, containing speeches from May 1938 when Churchill was still out of favor and out of power, to November 1940, six months after Churchill became wartime Prime Minister.

Between 1941 and 1946, Churchill’s war speeches were published in seven individual volumes. Of Churchill, Edward R. Murrow said, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” In this first war speeches volume the great battle of the Twentieth Century and Churchill’s life begins.

In his first speech to Parliament as Prime Minister on 13 May 1940, Churchill stated plainly, as he had told his Cabinet earlier that day, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” This is the famous phrase from which the U.S. first edition takes its title. Published in England as “Into Battle”, this is one of the few Churchill first editions for which the U.S. edition bears a different title than the British.

The U.S. first edition is bound in smooth navy cloth with red banners and silver print and red-stained top edge in the same style as the preceding U.S. first editions of Great Contemporaries (1937), While England Slept (1938), and Step By Step (1939), with the addition of the Marlborough arms stamped in blind on the front cover, lower right.

Bibliographic reference: Cohen A142.3, Woods/ICS A66(b.1), Langworth p.207

Condition of the Book

Condition of the book is very good, impressive given that it was handled and signed by fifty-one individuals over more than a decade. The binding remains square and unfaded, with only minor wear to extremities and trivial scuffing to the lower spine.


The contents remain bright with no spotting. The front free endpaper is twice stapled at the top, securing Hostler’s BOAC business card and we note what appears to be glue staining (but no scarring) to a rectangular section below the business card, perhaps where a previous bookplate was affixed and fell off.


The rear pastedown shows differential toning, consonant with possible transfer browning from news clippings that may once have been laid in. The red-stained top edge is clean and uniformly sunned to dark pink. The untrimmed fore edge and the bottom edge are notably clean, showing only a hint of age-toning.

Biographies of non-BOAC signatories (in order of the appearance of their signatures)

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon


Signature on the frontis page, centered below Churchill’s image

(1897-1977) Anthony Eden was Prime Minister from 1955-57, succeeding Winston Churchill. Educated at Eton and Christ Church Oxford, Eden served on the western front 1915-1918 and was awarded the Military Cross. He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1923-1957. His posts included Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign Office (1931-1933), Lord Privy Seal (1934-35), Minister for League of Nations Affairs (1935), and Foreign Secretary (1935-38, 1940-1945, and 1951-1955). Eden famously resigned his Foreign Secretary post on 20 February 1938 in protest to the Government’s appeasement policies. Of Eden’s resignation, Churchill wrote: “…on this night of February 20, 1938… sleep deserted me… There seemed one strong young figure standing up against long, dismal, drawling tides of drift and surrender, of wrong measurements and feeble impulses… he seemed to me at this moment to embody the life-hope of the British nation… Now he was gone.” (The Gathering Storm, pp. 257-8) Eden’s premiership, long-delayed while waiting for Churchill to relinquish the premiership, was fraught with challenge, including the Suez Crisis, and revealed Eden prone to reveal “irascibility, his inability at times to delegate, and his touchiness in the face of criticism.” Nonetheless, the passage of time sees Eden “increasingly recognized as a serious and patriotic figure who worked under the most appalling pressure for nearly three decades at the front line of British and world politics.” (ODNB) Eden was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1954 and created 1st Earl of Avon in 1961. Many honors accrued to Eden, and he was an active chancellor of Birmingham University for nearly three decades.

Baroness Clementine Ogilvy Spencer-Churchill

NPG x6145; Clementine Ogilvy Spencer-Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill

Signature on the frontis page, below and to the left of that of Anthony Eden

(1885-1977) Clementine Churchill, nee Clementine Hozier, was the wife of Winston S. Churchill. She first met Winston at a ball in 1904, where he made a poor impression. In March 1908 she was placed next to Winston at a dinner party, where he apparently made a better impression; they married on 12 September 1908. Their marriage brought five children: Diana (b. 1909); Randolph (b. 1911); Sarah (b. 1914); Marigold (b. 1918); and Mary (b. 1922). To their lifelong marriage Clementine brought “a shrewd political intelligence. She supplied balance to Churchill at two levels: her more equable nature ensured that she moderated the depth of his depressions, and her good judgment helped to ward off political mistakes.” (ODNB) Winston Churchill’s life and career were tumultuous and relentlessly eventful, so Clementine’s married life was perhaps inherently not without stress, challenges, and sadness. Nonetheless, their marriage appears to have been a truly effective and intimate partnership. “Throughout their married life, even if separated for only a few days, Clementine and Winston wrote spontaneous and informal letters to one another, intimately affectionate in tone, using their pet names Pug and Kat and reinforced with appropriate animal drawings.” (ODNB) ‘Marriage was her vocation’, said a newspaper leading article at her death (The Times, 13 Dec 1977) Clementine Churchill was appointed CBE (1918), GBE (1946), and created a life peer as Baroness Spencer-Churchill in 1965.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill



Signature on the frontis page bearing his portrait, below and slightly to the right of that of Clementine Churchill

(1874-1965) During his “remarkable and versatile” life, Winston Churchill played many roles worthy of historical note – member of Parliament for more than half a century, distinguished soldier and war correspondent, author of scores of books, ardent social reformer, combative cold warrior, painter, Nobel Prize winner. But more than anything else, it was Winston Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War that made him a preeminent historical figure. After passing out from Sandhurst he obtained his commission (20 February 1895) as a cavalry officer in the Queen’s Own Hussars. After an adventure in Cuba as a war correspondent, Churchill left England for India in 1896, where he would write his first book on the northwest Indian frontier, cementing the literary inclination that would become a financial, political, and expressive wellspring for the rest of his long life. Churchill would next fight and write in the Sudan, but it was via the Boer War in South Africa that the soldier and war correspondent made the seminal jump to politics. There, on 15 November 1899, Churchill was captured during a Boer ambush of an armored train. His daring escape less than a month later made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career. Churchill was first elected to Parliament in October 1900 as a Conservative. He would cross the aisle to become a Liberal in 1904, and by 1908, at age 33, become both a Cabinet Minister and a husband. By 1911 Churchill was first Lord of the Admiralty. In 1915, after the failure in the Dardanelles and the slaughter at Gallipoli, Churchill was made the scapegoat and forced to resign. At the onset of his first political exile at Hoe Farm in Surrey he discovered painting, which would be a passion and source of release and renewal for the remaining half century of his long life. He spent the balance of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. Before war’s end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, a dramatic cycle of political ruin and rebirth that echoed the 1930s to come. In October of 1924 Churchill rejoined the Conservatives, elected to the Epping seat he would hold for the next 40 years, and joining the Conservative Government as Chancellor of the Exchequer. By the early 1930s, Churchill was beginning a decade out of power and out of favor that would be known later as his “wilderness years” substantially characterized by Churchill’s “unceasing struggle in the face of resentment, apathy, and complacency” as he criticized British foreign policy and warned prophetically of the coming danger posed by Nazi Germany. When war came, Churchill was recalled to the Admiralty in September 1939 and became Prime Minister in May 1940. Churchill would remain wartime Prime Minister until July 1945 and then serve as Leader of the Opposition until his second and final premiership from October 1951 to April 1955. In the course of a lifetime Churchill was the recipient of thirty-seven orders, decorations, and medals. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1922, awarded the Order of Merit in 1946, and the Order of the Garter in 1953.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount of Alamein


Signature on the frontis page, directly below that of Winston Churchill

(1887-1976) Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC passed through Sandhurst “without distinction but without difficulty also” and began what would be fifty years in the British Army, serving in India from 1908 to 1913. “It was the First World War that changed Montgomery from a bumptious, querulous infantry subaltern, constantly at odds with authority, into a decorated company commander, outstanding staff officer—and trainer of men.” The First World War showed Montgomery ‘that the whole art of war is to gain your objective with as little loss as possible.’ This edict made Montgomery “the outstanding British field commander of the twentieth century.” (ODNB) Montgomery earned his fame in North Africa during the Second World War. In August 1942, Churchill gave Montgomery command of the Eighth Army, where Montgomery famously beat Rommel and oversaw defeat of Axis forces in North Africa. He went on to command the Eighth Army in Sicily and Italy, and Allied ground forces during Operation Overlord. After the war he would rise to Chief of the Imperial General Staff and be elevated to Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. He retired in 1958 as deputy commander of NATO’s European forces. The arrogant, outspoken, and politically inept Montgomery seldom missed either controversy or an opportunity for self-promotion. During the war he was often criticized by Allied commanders for his caution and slowness to strike. Uncharitable accusations made in Montgomery’s postwar memoirs lost him the friendship of President Eisenhower and forced Montgomery to publicly apologize to a fellow Field Marshal whom – ironically and perhaps hypocritically – he accused of being too slow to fight. Montgomery earned further criticism for declaring support for Apartheid after visiting South Africa, and for praising Chinese leadership after a visit to Mao’s communist China.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Cotesworth Slessor


Signature on the frontis page, lower right.

(1897-1979) Childhood Polio left John Slessor lame in both legs, but through the intervention of a family friend he was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps on his eighteenth birthday, where he would spend a distinguished career. Described as “an officer of exceptional ability, charm, and force of personality”, Slessor “was one of that select group of officers who were clearly destined for the highest ranks of the air force.” (ODNB) Slessor held the critical post of director of plans at the Air Ministry from 1937 to 1940. He was appointed air commodore in 1939, air vice-marshal in 1941, air marshal in 1943, air chief marshal in 1946, and marshal of the Royal Air Force in 1950, retiring in 1953. Slessor was awarded the MC in 1916, appointed to the DSO in 1937, and created CB (1942), KCB (1943), and GCB (1948).

Edward VIII, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor


Upper title page, centered between the title and author

(1894-1972) Edward, endowed with the forenames Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David and known to his family as David, was the first child of five sons and was thus groomed from the start to be king. Prince Edward “was early noted for charm and good looks.” He was also observed to be an “intelligent child, with something of his father’s prodigious memory and an innate, wide-ranging curiosity.” (ODNB)Edward was educated at Oxford. He left Oxford at the start of the First World War in 1914 and was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards, serving as vigorously as the imperative to prevent his death or capture would allow.After the war, “His easy manner and innovative hand-shaking sessions (he was the first royal to ‘press the flesh’ in the modern manner) made the prince a star in the Hollywood style then just emerging” and his popular appeal was enhanced by visits to Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and India. (ODNB) The prince met Wallis Simpson (1896–1986) in the home of a then-mistress on 10 January 1931. Simpson was an American citizen married to her second husband, an American businessman then living and working in London. George V died on 20 January 1936 and the Prince of Wales was proclaimed as King Edward VIII. “He was a colourful figure in a drab era. Yet for all his modernity he had given little thought as to how he would behave as king… his ministers quickly realized that he was not seriously engaged in the processes of public business.” Moreover, “The king’s affair with Mrs. Simpson was undisguised… and his informal and sometimes arbitrary behaviour was the despair of his staff.” Neither did Edward enjoy the support of Prime Minister Baldwin’s government. By late 1936, the crisis posed by the King’s evident intention to wed the not-yet-divorced Simpson came to a head. Despite noteworthy intervention and support by Winston Churchill, the King abdicated on 11 December 1936, his reign having lasted just 327 days. In his broadcast that evening, now Prince Edward famously remarked: “You must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.” Edward married Simpson on 3 June 1937 and they remained married until his death in 1972. Edward enjoyed a comfortable life, if one substantially isolated from the Royal Family and occupied with less than the responsibilities he sought. “In asserting private before public priorities to the extent of occasioning a constitutional crisis, he undoubtedly went far beyond what the British and imperial establishment found acceptable in a sovereign… the Simpson affair was a symptom of a wider question mark which had arisen over his capacity to be king.” Nonetheless, Edward “behaved after 1936 with dignity and reserve in the face of what he and his wife saw as a deliberate and systematic exclusion.” (ODNB)

Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke


Upper title page, directly below and left of the author’s name

(1883-1963) Alan Francis Brooke was born to a family with a centuries-long and distinguished record of military service to the crown and served as the foremost military advisor to Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the coordinator of British military efforts during the Second World War. At the apex of a distinguished and decorated military career, in December 1941, Brooke became chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) “in place of Dill, who had been no match for Winston Churchill. Soon thereafter Brooke became, in addition, chairman of the chiefs of staff committee and effectively the principal strategic adviser to the war cabinet as well as the professional head of the army.” (ODNB) When Brooke accepted Churchill’s appointment to serve as chief of the Imperial General Staff in November 1941, Churchill commented: “He is a combination of wisdom and vigour which I have found refreshing.” Churchill also had a personal connection with Brooke through “his two gallant brothers – the friends of my early military life”, Victor and Ronald. Victor was befriended by Churchill in 1895 and killed during the retreat from Mons in 1914; “Ronnie” was a comrade in arms and friend from the Boer War who also died prematurely in 1925. (Churchill, Their Finest Hour, pp. 233-4) By all accounts, Brooke proved a pivotal part of the British war effort, coordinating, commanding, consensus building, “and, often above all… contriv[ing] that Churchill’s indispensable and magnificent energies were not misdirected towards unsound and erratic strategic schemes.” (ODNB) Brooke was promoted to Field Marshal in 1944 and after the war handed over office to Montgomery, subsequently serving as Chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast, holding various ceremonial posts, among them being nominated Lord High Constable of England and commander of the parade for the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II, as well as holding director of numerous companies and engaging in philanthropic causes. In the First World War, Alanbrooke had been appointed to the DSO and had received the bar and six mentions in the dispatches. In 1940 he was appointed KCB, received the grand cross of both the Bath (1942) and the Royal Victorian Order (1953). He was created Baron Alanbrooke in 1945 and Viscount Alanbrooke in 1946, the year in which he was also created KG and admitted to the Order of Merit.

Field Marshal Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, Viceroy of India


Upper title page, directly below the author’s name

(1883-1950) Archibald Percival Wavell was a career army officer who proved unfortunate in his commands during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, despite enduring popularity with both the troops and the public. His early career included South Africa, India, and the First World War, followed by a decade divided between the War Office and staff during which he became known “as an officer untrammeled by convention.” As testimony to the point, “The general public came to associate him with a phrase he used in a lecture: that his ideal infantryman was ‘a successful poacher, cat-burglar and gunman’.” (ODNB) His first significant experience in a 30 year army career came in 1930. In command he became recognized “as an exceptional trainer of troops and a highly creative thinker.” The start of the Second World War found Wavell with the new command of the Middle East. A series of misfortunes not entirely attributable to Wavell’s leadership and competence eroded his position. When the decision was made to evacuate the British Somaliland protectorate (in Wavell’s absence), Churchill disapproved and Wavell defended it, beginning a permanent disaffection. After failure of British forces under Wavell in Greece and against Rommel, Churchill “lost confidence in Wavell” and he was replaced with Sir Claude Auchinleck, whose place Wavell took as commander in chief in India, a post Wavell held from 1941-1947. Here he also proved unlucky, nominated as supreme commander of the ill-fated American, British, Dutch, and Australian (ABDA) command of south-east Asia and the south-west Pacific. Nonetheless, in 1943 Wavell was promoted field marshal, appointed viceroy of India, and raised to the peerage as Viscount Wavell. As viceroy, Wavell “displayed considerable political acumen, sensitivity, and courage” but was severely hampered both by “lack of understanding from London” and political forces beyond his control. Wavell was eventually sacked, replaced by Mountbatten, who “rapidly concurred with Wavell’s diagnosis of the Indian situation” and “presided over the end of the raj” as Wavell had recommended. In his brief retirement before his death, Wavell was created Earl Wavell, indulged a love of literature, and served as chancellor of Aberdeen University. He received numerous decorations from many countries and in his own was appointed CMB (1919), CB (1935), KCB (1939), GCB (1941), and GCSI and CGIE in 1943, the same year in which he was sworn of the privy council.

Field Marshall Sir John Greer Dill


Upper title page, directly below and right of the author’s name

(1881-1944) Sir John G. Dill was Churchill’s first wartime chief of the Imperial General Staff and later head of the British joint staff mission in Washington, maligned for the former role and much praised – at least in America – for the latter. Dill, orphaned at the age of twelve, came from a long line of Dill scholars and ministers. A career military officer, he was commissioned in 1901. His early career seemed to emphasize his character and limitations more than his abilities; “At Sandhurst his conduct was exemplary, his marks uniformly mediocre. Worthiness outbid distinction.” (ODNB) It was a combination of the Staff College and the First World War that launched Dill’s career. He began the First World War as a captain and ended as a temporary brigadier. After the war he became an instructor and commandant at the Staff College and Imperial Defence College, ironically “attracting the epithet ‘intellectual'” as well as a reputation for vigor and drive. (ODNB) It is probable that the onset of the aplastic anaemia which killed him caused a decline in his vigor in the 1930s, even as he faced growing responsibilities. When he was appointed chief of the Imperial General Staff in April 1940, “he was in no condition to do what was both necessary and desirable; that is, stand up to Churchill at home and Hitler abroad.” (ODNB) Churchill called him ‘Dilly-Dally’ and Dill was replaced by his protégé, Brooke, in December 1941. When he was sacked, Churchill intended that he be sidelined as governor of Bombay. However, in December Churchill departed in haste for Washington to confer with Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor and took Dill with him. Dill stayed on in Washington, becoming “not only head of the joint staff mission and senior British member of the combined chiefs of staff, but also, ironically, personal representative of the minister of defence, an office claimed by Winston Churchill himself.” Here Dill distinguished himself and proved crucial as a trusted “guarantor and mediator, fixer and broker”. (ODNB) When his statue was erected in Arlington National Cemetery (a singular honor for a foreigner) the indispensible U.S. army chief of staff General George C. Marshall said of Dill: “He was my friend… my intimate associate through most of the war years… I have never known a man whose high character showed so clearly…” Dill was made KCB in 1937 and GCB in 1942 and, when he died in November 1944, was accorded a memorial service at Washington Cathedral, with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff as his honorary pall bearers.

Air Marshall Sir Roderic Maxwell Hill


Upper right title page, below the author’s name and directly below the signature of Sir John G. Dill

(1894-1954) Unlike many of his military contemporaries, Roderic Hill did not begin with the intention of a military career, but studied to become an architect. However, fascination with flying ultimately drew Hill’s attention, and the diversion was cemented when Hill enlisted in the ranks at the outbreak of the First World War. Wounded and mentioned in the dispatches, Hill joined the Royal Flying Corps and by July 1916 had earned his wings. Hill swiftly became known for “his energy, enthusiasm and skill, and calculated daring as a pilot.” He ended the First World War as a squadron leader with the newly formed Royal Air Force and from 1917 to 1923 oversaw the experimental flying department of the royal aircraft factory at Farnborough. In 1936 Hill received his first senior command, working closely with the army under generals Dill and Wavell. By 1939 he was an air vice-marshal, but he nonetheless characteristically managed to fly the new advanced fighters, the Hurricane and the Spitfire. To Hill’s chagrin, his early war years included non-operational command posts. In 1941 Hill was controller of technical services with the British air commission in the United States and, among other things, played a role in persuading the Americans to make far greater provision for armament, including gun-turrets, in their heavy bombers than they had originally intended. Hill was subsequently commandant of the RAF Staff College in 1942-3. It was only in 1943 that he received the fighter group command he wanted. “So successful was he that only four months later Hill became air marshal commanding air defence of Great Britain, with the main task of defending Britain from German air attack while the Allied invasion of the continent was being prepared.” (ODNB) Here Hill made an impressive impact. When the first flying bombs were launched in June 1944, Hill boldly – and with full knowledge that he would be held responsible for the outcome – initiated “a complete redeployment and segregation of defences” which ultimately “saved London from a far worse bombardment than it received.” In the final year of the war Hill became Air Council member for training and, after the war, principal air aide-de-camp to the king. His final post was as Air Chief Marshal for technical services, after which he retired to become rector of the Imperial College of Science and Technology. Hill was appointed MC (1916), AFC (1918), CB (1941), and KCB (1944).

Air Marshal Sir Robert Owen Jones

Sir Robert Owen Jones

Title page center

(1901-1972) Robert Owen Jones spent his career in the Royal Air Force, beginning as aircraft depot staff in India in 1925, rising to attend the RAF Staff College in 1934, and assuming his first commands thereafter in the mid 1930s. He was transferred to the Technical Branch in 1940 and later served as Head of the RAF delegation to Washington, D.C. After the Second World War, Jones successively served as Head of Planning Staff at the Air Ministry, Air Officer Commanding No 24 (Training) Group, and Controller of Engineering and Equipment, rising to Air Marshal. Jones was appointed AFC (1939), CB (1944), and KBE (1953).

Sir Albert Henry Self

Title page, lower center

(1890-1975) Albert Henry Self was a British civil servant. Before and during the Second World War he arranged purchase of American aircraft to fulfill Royal Air Force needs, serving as Director General of the British Air Commission. After the Second World War he held the post of Deputy Chairman in the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Perhaps most notably, Sir Henry Self played a significant role in development of the ubiquitous, essential, and iconic P-51 Mustang fighter. With the outbreak of war in 1939, the British established a purchasing commission to acquire American-produced aircraft. Self initially sought out North America to produce the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. It proved more workable to achieve design and production of a superior fighter than to transition North American’s assembly lines to the P-40. This swiftly resulted in production of the P-51 Mustang. The first production aircraft flew in May 1941 and the Mustang made its combat debut in Britain in May 1942. After the war, Henry became Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Self was appointed KCB (1939) and KBE (1947).

Colonel Sir Edmund Vivian Gabriel


Title page lower left

(1875-1950) Edmund Vivian Gabriel was a descendant of Italian nobility, British civil servant, courtier, and art collector who played noteworthy roles in both the First and Second World Wars. Gabriel served in the Indian Civil and Political Services before being assigned to the Imperial General Staff in London during the First World War, where he was closely associated with Kitchener. He subsequently joined the British Military Mission with the Italian Royal Army, as the head of the intelligence section, and later served as liaison officer to the naval forces in the Aegean. In 1917 he was deployed to Cairo and assigned to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. On 11 December he entered Jerusalem with General Edmund Allenby and was appointed financial advisor and assistant administrator of Palestine but in 1919 was allegedly asked to resign for pro-Arab sympathies. After the war he moved to Britain and maintained his services with the Territorial Army, reaching the rank of colonel. In 1925 he was appointed to King George V’s household as a Gentleman Usher in Ordinary, a title he maintained until his death. During the Second World War, Gabriel was a member of the British Air Commission to the United States of America. Gabriel’s British honors include CSI, CMG, CVO, CBE, and VD. Gabriel was knighted by King George VI in 1937. He was appointed by King Victor Emmanuel III Officer, Order of the Crown of Italy, and Officer, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. He also was a Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.

How To Protect Your Collection

Many of our customers have asked us: How do I protect my collection?

In this post we’ll try to encapsulate some of the answers we’ve provided over time – as well as the thinking behind these answers.

Book collectors are generally a fastidious lot. And with good reason. These objects embody time and place and encapsulate distilled perspective from the essentially human quest for understanding that links generations. In more tangible terms, books are assets and heirlooms, often with substantial worth.

The books we collect are also inherently and vexingly perishable. Use will diminish their condition of course. Even if they survive the rigors of human contact, the ambient environment itself will take a slow, inexorable toll. And often the very materials with which the books are made will betray them, as slow, complex, and consumptive chemistry occurs. All of the things that provide for life – light, air, moisture, basic biology, and chemical reactions – besiege the book and bedevil the collector.

Nonetheless, properly treated, nearly any book can look forward to a much longer life than any single collector. That makes you a steward as much as you are an owner. Your job is to ensure that your most precious books pass from your hands to the next with as much defiance of age and injury as possible.

Moderation in all things

So, how do you make sure that happens? “Moderation in all things.” This is a quote variously attributed to everyone from ancient Greek thinkers to modern poets. In a less deeply philosophical sense, it applies well to the task of book collecting.

Moderate temperature, moderate humidity, moderate light exposure. These simple measures will do much to protect your collection.

Temperature. Excessive heat can make paper and bindings brittle, accelerate spotting and fungal growth, and increase the rate of chemical reactions, such as the breakdown of glue or the deterioration of non-acid neutral paper stock. Likely you prefer the inside of your home to be a relatively constant, moderate temperature. So do your books.

Moisture. Water is essential to the growth of the wood and fiber materials from which so many books are made, and the industrial process of transforming these materials into paper and bindings. But after that, water becomes the enemy. Dampness can cause warping, oxidation, and fungal growth. Reasonable humidity is good. Dampness is deadly to books. Unfortunate are books which, like suffering characters in a Dumas novel, are kept in dank, below-ground cells where they slowly expire from withering consumptive disorders. Don’t keep your books in a dungeon.

Light. Light is the luminous energy that makes it possible for those of us with sight to read. Light is also a form of radiation that breaks down the colors and materials and eventually the corporeal integrity of a book. You wouldn’t leave yourself out all the time in direct sunlight. Don’t do it to your books.

Not quite the preservation ideal ...

Not quite the preservation ideal …

Storage basics

Keep your books on clean and tidy shelves, either standing upright or lying flat. This way there is no differential pressure on the binding. For the same reason, when shelving the book, try to place it beside books of a similar size. Try to locate your bookshelves in a place with fairly constant and reasonable temperature and humidity – like the inside of most modern homes. Make sure your shelves are out of direct sunlight.

Extra protection

Every book with a dust jacket that we sell comes fitted with an archival quality clear cover. These covers have clear mylar on the front and acid-neutral paper backing. They fold neatly around a dust jacket with no need for adhesives of any kind and are easily removable. We strongly recommend that you protect all of your dust jackets thus. Brodart and Gaylord are two companies that sell such protective covers. Similar clear mylar cover material can be used to protect bindings that lack dust jackets.

For extra protection on the shelf, bookcases with glass doors help keep out dust and insulate from normal swings in temperature and humidity. These can get pricey, but there are lower cost options too. IKEA is one company that offers a variety of relatively inexpensive cases with doors.

For really precious volumes, a custom box should be considered that will fully encase the book. This option offers fairly comprehensive protection from dust, sunlight, and air pollution. “But,” you might say, “then I won’t get the attractive look of my books on the shelves!” If that’s a concern, a good binder can make sturdy book boxes that have curved and hubbed leather spines, just like a fine binding, so that the boxes will both look great on the shelf and protect the book within. Note the emphasis on “a good binder.” Ask us to refer you to one, which we will be happy to do.

How to handle your books

We’ve talked a lot about how to shelve and store your books, but of course you’ll sometimes want to actually take them off the shelf.

When taking a book from the shelf, always take it from the middle, not the top of the spine, and pull it straight out to prevent damage to the spine and rubbing to the edges. Always support the book at the spine when opening it and be careful not to bend the covers back too far as this may crack the hinges, especially in older books.

And remember that humans are messy creatures. You know how people leave fingerprints on nearly everything they touch? That’s from the oil in our skin. When you touch a book, it’s the same. But unlike the clever villain wiping down a crime scene, you can’t readily remove the oil and dirt you inevitably and indelibly leave on the porous cloth or leather binding you handle. That’s why dust jacket protectors and mylar covers are important, as are clean, dry hands.

DIY for damaged books

Torn dust jacket? Cracked hinges? A loose page? Don’t DIY. Before you try to repair a valuable but damaged book, count to ten. While you are counting, step away from the tape, put down the glue, and call a professional.

Why? Let me ask you this: did you do your last biopsy yourself? Did you self-sew your last round of stitches?

Use of non-archival, non-professionally applied materials – particularly adhesive materials – is usually an irreversible disaster that permanently diminishes the value of your book.

A word on “foxing” and “spotting”

Rust colored spots which occur on paper – most typically seen on endpapers and page edges – are often called “foxing” (so-called for the usually reddish-brown color of the stains) or “spotting”. Informed consensus appears to be that these spots occur on the paper as a result of oxidation of both organic and iron impurities residual from the paper making process. Given the right temperature and humidity conditions, these latent factors cause spotting to occur. Other theories are that some form of fungal growth may play a role. Irrespective, it seems clear that high temperatures and humidity enable and accelerate spotting. Spotting does not impact the integrity of the paper, but does affect aesthetics and, when pronounced, affects value as well.

Churchill’s Second World War – a presentation set from the man who secured the publishing rights to “perhaps the greatest coup of Twentieth Century publishing”

As a bookseller we have a lot of books pass through our hands. But we are also collectors. And as collectors, sometimes we handle an item that is worth talking about, even if we are not offering it for sale.

Hence this post about a truly exceptional British first edition of The Second World War.

Most of us are familiar with the six-volume British first edition. The British first edition of Volume I was published in October 1948, the sixth and final volume in April 1954. British first editions were issued in black cloth bindings stamped gilt on the spines with uniform dust jackets featuring varying color print and uniform red spine sub-titles on a grey background containing alternating rows of rampant lions and Churchill’s initials. Though truly fine copies are quite rare, jacketed sets in flawed condition are not uncommon.

Not so the handful of original first edition, leather bound presentation sets.

Cassell presentation set of The Second World War

“One hundred sets” are noted by Frederick Woods as “bound by Cassell in full black pebble-grain morocco for presentation.” These are elegantly handsome, with first printing contents including original trade edition endpapers, gilt on the top edge, head and foot bands, gilt ruled turn-ins, and gilt author, title, and volume number spine print. Such sets are quite scarce and coveted.

We recently offered a particularly noteworthy such set, inscribed by Cassell’s Director Sir Newman Flower with an accompanying note by him dated 25 October 1948 reading: “Cast forth your Churchill volume! Cast it forth and, please accept this one! Each of the three Directors of Cassells has now received six copies which Winnie had bound in leather, and I should like you to have one of them. Whether this leather binding is going to be continued by Winston in his later vols. I don’t know. If so, I should wish you to have one of each out of my portion. If not, I will make some arrangement.”

Letter from Newman Flower

Sir (Walter) Newman Flower (1879-1964) already had three decades’ experience as an accomplished editor and publisher when he purchased the book-publishing part of Cassell in 1927 from Lords Camrose and Kemsley. Flower retired from Cassell in 1946, passing the reins to his son, but remained Chairman of the Board.

Securing the rights to publish Churchill’s war memoirs has been called “perhaps the greatest coup of Twentieth Century publishing.” It was Sir Newman Flower who arranged this coup. When Churchill was offered a large sum for the film rights to the yet-unpublished History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Flower had his moment. Cassell owned the film rights, which Flower offered to surrender in return for first refusal on Churchill’s anticipated war memoirs. On 24 November 1944, Churchill consented, writing to Flower: “I shall be very pleased to give your firm a first refusal, at the lowest price I am prepared to accept, of publishing rights in serial and book form… in any work I may write on the present War after it is over.” Churchill specified “I undertake no obligation to write anything.”

The two caveats reflected the advice of Churchill’s lawyers and the author’s characteristic hard-nosed (even ruthless) negotiating when it came to extracting value for his writing. Nonetheless, the agreement set the stage for Cassell’s publishing triumph. Of course Churchill would inevitably write his war memoirs, and of course Cassell would do what it took to accommodate Churchill’s expectations. Among other things, Churchill’s six-volume work proved the essential asset to Cassell’s postwar recovery.


Churchill Bibliographer (and newly-minted MBE “for services to British history”) Ron Cohen speculates that the recipient of this set might well have been Howard Dare Denny, who was the third Manager of Cassell’s Australia. Denny served as Manager from 1924 to 1947 and died in 1960 – late enough to have received all six volumes of The Second World War. Ron speculates that “it would be quite logical to suppose that Sir Newman Flower, who was a major figure at Cassell’s London offices over those same two plus decades, would have written such a personal note” to Denny. Both men were succeeded by their sons, Denny’s son Cyril Dare Denny taking over Cassell Australia operations in 1947.

It is worth regarding that this note from a Cassell Director accompanying Volume I might appear to question Frederick Woods’ original bibliographic report on both the number of copies issued and whether they were bound by the author or the publisher.

In the end, we are obliged to defer to Woods, who had access to now-vanished Cassell personnel and publishing records when his own Bibliography was published in 1963. The 18 copies that Sir Newman Flower’s letter specified were for the “three Directors of Cassells” might have been a subset of the 100 total. And even if Churchill did make arrangements for the sets to be bound in black morocco, it is entirely plausible that this work should have been done at Cassell. Nonetheless, the question – raised by a 1948 presentation letter from the man who secured the publication rights – is engaging to contemplate. And the set – beautifully bound, magnificently preserved, and with its inscription and letter – adds a layer of history to that printed on its pages.

MBE for Churchill’s Bibliographer

Three cheers for Ronald I. Cohen, who now adds MBE to the honorifics already due him as Churchill’s bibliographer and President of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa, Canada.


The Queen’s 2014 birthday honours list was recently published, including 100 awards in recognition of exceptional service to Britain overseas. Among those honored is Ron Cohen, who was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) “for services to British history.”

A brief background may be in order for those of us in the English-speaking world deprived of both Queen and titular recognition. The lists of those who receive hono(u)rs are published at New Year and on the Queen’s official birthday in June. Member of the Order of the British Empire is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community. An MBE is also awarded for local ‘hands-on’ service which stands out as an example to other people.

Today Ron will enjoy a well-deserved congratulatory party at the residence of the British High Commissioner in Ottawa.

“It is truly an honour to receive this award,” says Ron. “I had the good fortune to live in London during the last six months of Sir Winston Churchill’s life. It was the outpouring of emotion and respect for him by Britain and indeed the world that inspired me to spend the last half century collecting, studying, writing and speaking about the “greatest Briton”. That I should merit such recognition by Her Majesty for this passion is both humbling and gratifying.”

Announcing selections from the unparalleled private collection of Ronald I. Cohen.

For our first blog on our new website, we are pleased to announce forthcoming selections from the unparalleled collection of Churchill’s Bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen.

Ron’s may well be the most impressively comprehensive collection of published works by Sir Winston Churchill ever assembled. Nobody knows Churchill’s works better.  And nobody owns more of them.

Churchill wrote 58 books, 260 pamphlets, and 840 articles.  His speeches fill 9,000 pages.  His published works appear in a dizzying myriad of editions, issues, states, and printings. And beyond works authored solely by him, Churchill’s words appear in a host of works by others – in the form of letters, chapters, forewords, introductions, prefaces, and similar contributions.

Fortunately for collectors, Ron literally wrote the book on Churchill’s published works.


Nearly 25 years of exhaustive research went into his indispensible three-volume, 2,183 page Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill.  No less an authority than Sir Martin Gilbert effusively praised Ron’s work, calling it:  “…a high point – and surely a peak – of Churchill bibliographic research… adding not only to the bibliographer’s art, but to knowledge of Winston Churchill himself.” Published in 2006, Ron’s Bibliography seeks to detail every single edition, issue, state, printing, and variant of every printed work authored by, or with a contribution from, Winston S. Churchill.

In his 2007 review of the Bibliography, Professor Christopher Bell said: “Ronald Cohen is the first scholar to capture the full scope of Churchill’s literary activities, not only his many books, speeches, and articles, but the thousands of letters, war despatches, memoranda, and lesser items he produced during his long life. This is a model of how a bibliography should be written: with meticulous attention to detail, exhaustive research, a deep respect for the subject, and a literary flair of its own. It was a long time in the making, but it was worth the wait.” (Finest Hour, No. 133, Winter 2007)

Above is our copy of Volume I.  With its broken binding, soiled covers, and liberally annotated contents, it may be the ugliest book you will ever see pictured on our website.  It is also among the most valued and certainly the most frequently consulted.

As impressive as his Bibliography is, Ron has spent even more decades seeking to *obtain* copies of each and every item in his Bibliography. We believe that he has come closer to accomplishing this goal than any other collector.

Of course, Ron accessed hundreds of institutional and private collections in order to personally examine each publication detailed in his Bibliography. However, discerning collectors will note the impressive number of times Ron is able to reference items from his own collection in his thousands of bibliographic entries.

Ron’s  collection ranges from the most obscure reprints to truly special items.  To name just a few:

  • The only known jacketed first edition set of The River War, which is also signed and dated by Churchill in the year of publication.
  • What may well be the last book ever signed by Churchill, signed just eight weeks before his death in January 1965 (which we will soon offer for sale).
  • The broadest and most representative collection of speech pamphlets, including potentially unique items such as the Far Eastern publication of Churchill’s speech on the Fall of Singapore.
  • Every volume of Hansard with a speech by Churchill, including his maiden speech, his five Budget speeches, and his wartime speeches.


After many decades of acquiring, Ron is paring his collection.  Liquidation of select items from Ron’s collection offers collectors a truly unique opportunity.

In the coming months, we will offer hundreds of items from the Cohen Collection.  These items are chiefly either signed/inscribed items or editions of which Ron has more than one copy.  The many hundreds of “spare” items in Ron’s collection are more numerous than most serious collectors’ primary collections.

First notification of available items will be to those subscribing to our contact list, beginning a few weeks hence.

We hope you enjoy reviewing the items offered as much as we have enjoyed preparing them for your consideration.


Churchill Book Collector