Treasure: Churchill letter reacts to election

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Political disappointment is as old as politics itself. “When Winston Churchill failed to be re-elected as Prime Minister of England following WWII, my grandmother wrote him a letter of sympathy and admiration,” wrote Mike Church in an email. “In response, Winston Churchill wrote a handwritten letter to my grandmother saying: “I thank you sincerely for your very kind message to me that I have received & read with great pleasure. Winston Churchill, 1945.’’

Mike Church brought that letter to a recent appraisal session in Troy, where appraiser Brian Thomczek examined it more closely. “It belonged to my grandmother who is Swiss but was a U.S. citizen living in Chicago in World War II,” he told the appraiser. “He was defeated after the war and she was very upset so she sent him a letter of sympathy.”

His letter, he says, has some important differences from many of the other pieces he found when researching on the internet. “I have seen other letters that were in response to a birthday wish to Winston Churchill, whereas my letter is connected to a significant historical event. The other letters were typed with only the signature handwritten, whereas my letter is entirely handwritten. My letter is on House of Commons stationery. My letter includes the envelope with the stamped date of 3 Oct. 1945,” he wrote in the original email, information he reiterated at the appraisal session.

Obviously there’s a market for historic items connected to prominent people, says Thomczek. And while some are more valuable than others, “pieces that are connected to the war can bring higher numbers and are generally more valuable,” he told Church. “Some war-related memorabilia and letters tied to the Prime Minister can bring as much as $25,000 to $35,000.”

“Since your item is handwritten and connected to an important event, there is a good chance it’s more important than a common piece,” he added. “While I don’t think it would bring the same big numbers as some things might, I still think you’d get a good amount for this at auction. Because of its great provenance, I’d estimate this at somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 at auction. If you were to sell it in an antique shop or online, you might get around $6,000.

He said there would probably be a strong market for it in England, but that the U.S. has many political and ephemera collectors as well. “His handwriting was very unique and hard to read,” Thomczek pointed out.

Church says they consider it a family heirloom and plan to keep it.

The appraiser also added that anyone interested in Churchill should consider a visit to Hillsdale College, home to The Churchill Project, designed, according to their website, “to preserve and teach a right understanding of the wisdom and statesmanship of Winston Spencer Churchill. As publisher of Churchill’s Official Biography and as the repository of the Martin Gilbert papers, Hillsdale College will promote Churchill learning through national conferences, scholarships, online courses, an endowed faculty chair, and educational resources for students and scholars.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item: Winston Churchill handwritten letter

Owned by: Mike Church

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: $3,000-$5,000 at auction