Churchill lookalike in bidding war
Published 17/03/2011 | 20:33
Sir Winston Churchill appeared at an auction house and entered a gruelling bidding war to try and win back his spectacles - or rather his lookalike did.
The former prime minister's double, who goes by the name Derek Herbert when he is not impersonating Churchill, was in Northamptonshire to try to reclaim the tortoiseshell spectacles on behalf of their original manufacturer.
The plastic-framed reading glasses, which once perched on the end of Churchill's nose, were made in 1954 by CW Dixey & Son for the former prime minister who was often seen wearing the distinctive spectacles when appearing in public.
Complete with a blue leather-covered case and compliments slip from Dixey which said: "These tortoiseshell spectacles were made in 1954 for the Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Churchill", they were sold by auctioneers JP Humbert on Wednesday for £11,200.
Four international telephone lines were set up for the bidding that started at £1,500, over 150 people packed into the sale room and more than 300 people listened in to the auction online, Jonathan Humbert said.
But Churchill's doppelganger was unlucky in his attempt to win back the glasses, eventually losing out to a telephone buyer.
Mr Humbert said the glasses, which are in "pristine condition" with no scuffs or marks to the lenses or circular frames, were left with opticians Dixey of Wigmore Street, London, after they had been sent there for some work.
"They were made for Churchill," Mr Humbert said, "and he had them and wore them for some time. They went back to have some adjustment or tightening made and they were either then never collected or were replaced."
Simon Palmer, owner of CW Dixey & Son, said it was hoped the glasses could be "reclaimed" in an attempt to preserve them as an important piece of British history.
He added: "It's disappointing that we were unable to win the glasses. We anticipated the bidding was likely to go high, but we didn't anticipate that the glasses would be quite as popular as they have proved to be."