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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Churchill's cigar auctioned off
Winston Churchill
Several items connected with Mr Churchill featured in the sale
An unsmoked 10-inch cigar which belonged to Winston Churchill has been sold for 70 at an auction of Downing Street memorabilia in Cornwall.

The memorabilia was owned by the late Sydney May, from Camborne, who worked as an office manager at 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street for 18 years.

A collection of seven signed photographs of prime ministers Mr May served under went for 800.

Other items sold included official dinner menus and a coffee table.

Real history

Auctioneer David Lay told BBC News he had expected the cigar to fetch a higher price than 70 after the remains of one of Churchill's cigars went for 500 at an earlier auction.

"I was a bit disappointed, but I understand why," he said, adding that he knew collectors were more interested in the cigars that the twice prime minister had actually smoked.

He had expected the collection of photographs to be among the best selling lots.

The photographs were of: Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.

A custom-built coffee table partly made with a cigar box lid owned by Winston Churchill went for 250.

Coffee table inlaid with cigar box lid. Picture: David Lay Auction
The coffee table was sold for 250
And a black-edged envelope with an official invitation to Mr May from the Queen to attend Churchill's state funeral on 30 January 1965 went for 180.

A Downing Street seating plan for a dinner held in October 1969 in honour of the moon landing Apollo 11 crew was sold for 35.

It showed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins sitting on either side of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, with Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin seated next to Mrs Mary Wilson.

Although Mr Lay said some of the prices were disappointing, it had been a fascinating experience going through the collection.

He said: "I was originally just called to sell the photographs, but then I found out about the rest of the collection, and I just thought it was wonderful sifting through all these papers.

"I thought about how people would have been sitting in limousines looking at the dinner seating plans trying to work out who they would be next to.

"They were real pieces of history."

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