Churchill Forbes Collection (4)

Winston Churchill’s desk on display on the stand of Peter Harrington Rare Books at The Winter Show in New York.

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Winston Churchill’s desk which he used to write his Second World War memoirs has been sold by Peter Harrington Rare Books at The Winter Show in New York (January 19-28).

First-time exhibitors at the fair, the firm showcased highlights from a massive collection of Churchill’s books, papers and related memorabilia. The buyer, an existing client of Peter Harrington, saw it there and snapped it up.

The 19th-century George II-style mahogany pedestal desk, sold for $450,000, featured a leather-inset rectangular top with moulded edge above three frieze drawers, restored in places. It stood for many years in the private office of his Hyde Park Gate home, and he used it extensively during his post-war political career for work as well as to display family photographs. He worked on The Second World War as well as his History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Later, the office was repurposed as his personal bedroom and the desk was next to him there when he died.

According to a spokesperson for the gallery, the buyer “immediately understood its significance as the place Churchill would have worked on some of his most iconic writings, it just immediately resonated”.

It was part of a collection built up by Steve Forbes starting in the 1980s.

Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington, said it “represents one of the most significant collections we have handled in more than 50 years as rare book sellers. It is a real testament to what a private collector can achieve through combining multi-decade perseverance with the ability to grasp every opportunity to acquire exceptional material.”

Other highlights included a presentation copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince inscribed by Churchill to Lord Beaverbrook, a sequence of signed letters from Churchill while serving on the Western front in 1916 and on his return from the First World War, and an oil study by Churchill from the winter of 1935-36, The Entrance to the Gorge at Todhra, Morocco.