Doubts over sale of Churchill's spectacles
Author: Simon Jones
A pair of reading glasses said to have been worn by Sir Winston Churchill went under the hammer for £6,000 at auction last week, over three times the guide price.
The glasses, made by C.W. Dixey & Son, were sold by Catherine Southon Auctioneers and Valuers at a special Christmas auction held at Farleigh Golf Club in Surrey, 11 miles from Churchill’s Chartwell home in Kent.
In the listing details, the round rimmed tortoiseshell glasses were described as having single white dots on each temple to denote they were for reading. Other glasses were made for card playing and speeches.
Provenance came from Peter Varnes, a former director of the company, who issued a typed letter outlining that the glasses were one of three pairs made for Churchill and kept in C.W. Dixey & Son stores. A post auction report on the BBC said the glasses were worn by the former Prime Minister.
Current C.W. Dixey & Son managing director Simon Palmer said he was not approached by the auction house for input on the provenance literature for the frames and added that he did not know how they came to be in Peter Varnes’ possession. The leather case sold with the frames was also manufactured in 2012, said Palmer.
‘It’s highly unlikely Winston Churchill ever wore the frames in question. The company would have to keep a few in reserve for new orders. The only occasions the company would have received customer frames would have been for a repair,’ said Palmer.