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It was first offered last November, reserved at £75, but on that occasion nobody took up what would have been a considerable bargain at that price and not a single bid was taken.

The problem lay to some extent in the catalogue entry, which described it as a 1910 first, but one lacking the wrappers and rebound in cloth gilt. This description was influenced partly by the trade vendor’s own low valuation, and partly by the cataloguer’s failure to find a recent auction record of this version of an early Churchill work that was published, simultaneously I believe, in two different guises. Both versions came out in January of 1910 and both were priced at one shilling – but as well as this one in cherry-red cloth, there was another in wrappers bearing a portrait of young Winston, and that is where the cataloguing
confusion began.

At least one example of each version had appeared in the rooms last year, though not of course in time to get into the annually published records. In March, a bid of £1300 was taken at Dominic Winter’s Swindon rooms for a copy of the cloth bound version that was described in the catalogue as being somewhat browned and brittle, and then, at Phillips in May, the sum of £900 was paid for a copy of the version in paper wrappers, one of which was described as torn and soiled and as a second issue with a replacement index – but even so, it seems strange that those who know their Churchill or had access to a Churchill bibliography did not investigate further back in November.

When the book came back to sale last month, described in exactly the same way and still reserved at £75, the story was very different. Everyone was interested, including Churchill specialist Mark Weber, who had bought the Swindon and London copies described above, and he it was who made the winning bid of £1600.