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News From the Front

April 1, 2012

WINSTON CHURCHILL'S V-SIGN PENDANT

A Retirement Gift From The Prime Minister

WINSTON CHURCHILL'S V-SIGN PENDANT

Two months after his retirement as Prime Minister, on July 13, 1955, Winston Churchill sent silver V-sign pendants to 113 former members of his staff at 10 Downing Street and Chequers, including the cleaners, electricians, telephonists, messengers, and carpenters, as well as his prewar and wartime secretariat. The pendants were designed and executed according to Churchill’s instructions by Cartier in London.

Sergeant Edmund Murray was Churchill’s bodyguard in 1955 (as he would remain until Churchill’s death in 1965). Murray had served in the Foreign Legion and the London Metropolitan Police. Most intriguingly, for Churchill, Murray was an accomplished amateur painter. “You have had a most interesting life,” Churchill announced to Murray, while interviewing him. “And I hear you even paint in oils.”

Murray was at Churchill’s side on many of his painting forays, lugging Churchill’s gear and snapping the photographs that Churchill later deployed with a magic lantern to complete paintings in his studio at Chartwell. When Murray had his work rejected by the Royal Academy, Churchill consoled him: “You know, your paintings are so much better than mine, but yours are judged on their merit.”

Recently we were contacted by Edmund Murray’s son, Bill. The Murray family had decided they were ready to part with Winston Churchill's pendant gift to Bill's father (and mother, Beryl). We were thrilled. To our knowledge, no Churchill V-sign pendant had ever before been sold. In fact, we'd never seen one.

The pendant is surprisingly delicate; the antithesis, in a sense, of the bold statement it represents: V for Victory. A broad V embedded in a thin circle that measures only 22 millimeters in diameter, it is engraved with Winston Churchill’s name in cursive script and the dates 1951-1955. The Murrays even saved the original red Cartier box.

In commemoration of the publication on May 1 of CHURCHILL STYLE: The Art of Being Winston Churchill by Chartwell proprietor Barry Singer (who writes about the pendant in his book), we will be placing this historic object on display for the month of May, through the good graces of one of our good customers, who now owns it.

Come have a look. It is indeed a rare sight.

 

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Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill