Oddly Enough

Winston Churchill's dentures up for sale

The Big Ben clock and a statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill are silhouetted against the morning sky in central London, January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - A partial set of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s gold-mounted dentures, specially designed to disguise his natural lisp, go up for sale this month.

The partial dentures, which Keys Auctioneers have catalogued with an estimated value of 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, are being sold by the son of the technician who was commissioned to make them.

A duplicate is on show at the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, and a third set was buried with Churchill in 1965.

According to documents written by the college of surgeons, the dentures were “carefully designed to ensure that Churchill retained his characteristically slurred diction -- a deliberate affectation designed to overcome a childhood lisp.

“Churchill lived in fear of losing his false teeth, and hence his speaking voice, and insisted that spare dentures always be on hand,” it added.

The false teeth are the latest piece of Churchill memorabilia to go under the hammer. Earlier this year, one of his half-smoked cigars was sold for 4,500 pounds.

Other items in the catalogue include a broken Victorian cigar box with Churchill’s initials on the lid, two sets of playing cards made for Churchill with a copy of his signature on the back and an usher’s armband worn at Churchill’s funeral.

The auction is at Keys’ showroom in Norwich on July 29.

Reporting by Isobel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison