Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Churchill cigar sells for 4,500 at auction in Norfolk

Churchill cigar
The cigar was picked up by a Downing Street staff member

A half-smoked cigar, abandoned when Sir Winston Churchill dashed away to an urgent wartime Cabinet meeting, has sold at auction for £4,500.

The ex-prime minister's cigar, picked up by a member of the 10 Downing Street staff 69 years ago, had been expected to fetch up to £350.

The 9.5cm (3.74ins) cigar, embossed with the owner's name, was sold by Keys auctioneers in Aylsham, Norfolk.

It was bought by a private collector from Hertfordshire.

After picking up the stub, Downing Street valet Nellie Goble grabbed a sheet of 10 Downing Street notepaper and scribbled a note to a friend.

She wrote: "To Jack, with all good wishes from Nellie. Just a small souvenir to remind you at some future date of one of the greatest men that ever lived in England."

"Jack" treasured the letter and cigar until his death in 1987 when it passed to his daughter.

The woman kept it wrapped in the note in a drawer at her north Norfolk home.

In November, a butter dish used as an ashtray by Churchill at the London dining and debating club he co-founded was sold at Keys for £4,200, almost three times its estimate.

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