Auctions | May 24, 2013

Historic Photo Signed by Churchill and Roosevelt at Bonhams

A copy of the famous photograph showing British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, welcoming the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), on board the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales on the morning of 10 August 1941 is for sale at Bonhams Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Photographs sale in Knightsbridge London on 19 June. It is estimated at £6,000-8,000.


The photograph was taken by the War Office official photographer, Captain William G. Horton, and developed by him on the ship before the conference ended on 12 August.  It is signed by both Churchill and Roosevelt.

The event depicted took place during the Atlantic Conference held between 9-12 August at Placentia Bay off Argentia, Newfoundland. This was the first time the two wartime leaders had met. The United States was not then a combatant in World War II and, although FDR was himself sympathetic to the Allied cause, the American public was largely hostile to military involvement. Roosevelt and Churchill, who had struck up a warm personal relationship through correspondence, arranged the meeting to discuss the shape of the post-war world. Roosevelt deceived the press into believing he was taking a fishing trip while Churchill, under a news blackout, took the considerable risk of sailing across the Atlantic at the mercy of German U Boats.


The Atlantic conference cemented the relationship between the two men and, in the form of the Atlantic Charter, laid the foundations of the United Nations and determined the fundamental lines along which the world would be organised once hostilities had ended.


In the words of Bonhams Book Department specialist, Simon Roberts, “This is a unique memento of the first of the 12 wartime meetings between Roosevelt and Churchill.  It is, also, arguably the most far-reaching because the decisions taken during the Atlantic Conference led to the Atlantic Charter which provided the foundations of the United Nations when it was formed in 1945. As Churchill commented in The Second World War “It was a great hour to live”. 


The photograph is being sold by William Horton’s grandson together with the menu for the dinner held by Roosevelt for Churchill on 9 August on board his flagship Augusta.