Winston Churchill Wore False Teeth to Deliver Historic Wartime Speeches. Now, They’re for Sale

The British prime minister likely acquired the custom gold-mounted dentures around the beginning of World War II

Black and white photo of Winston Churchill giving a speech
Churchill's custom-made dentures helped him maintain his distinctive speaking style. Haywood Magee / Picture Post / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

One lucky collector will soon have the chance to own a unique piece of British history, as a set of Winston Churchill’s false teeth heads to auction next month.

The used dentures won’t be cheap: They’re expected to sell for up to £8,000 (roughly $10,000), according to the Cotswold Auction Company, which is hosting the auction on February 6.

The teeth “must be among the most unusual items we have ever sold,” says Liz Poole, the auction house’s director, in a statement, per CNN’s Issy Ronald.

Churchill long suffered dental problems and had lost some of his teeth by his 20s, so he had several sets of upper dentures made. The false teeth helped Churchill maintain his distinctive speaking style, and he usually carried two sets with him at all times.

One set is thought to have been buried with Churchill, who died in 1965, while another is on display at the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in London.

The gold-mounted partial dentures now being auctioned off date to around the beginning of World War II, when Churchill was serving as the British prime minister. He likely wore them while delivering many of his historic speeches, including his famous “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” address in June 1940, per BBC News’ Chris Lockyer.

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His dentist, Wilfred Fish, designed the custom dentures before passing the specs on to dental technician Derek Cudlipp, who produced them.

The Cudlipp family held onto the dentures for many years, until Cudlipp’s son, Nigel, sold them in 2010 for £15,200 (about $23,700).

“According to Nigel Cudlipp, his father said he could always tell how the war was going from the distance Winston hurled the teeth,” said Andrew Bullock, a spokesperson for the auction house that sold the dentures in 2010, to CNN’s Simon Hooper at the time. “They were prone to breaking, especially when Churchill got a bit angry.”

In 2008, a letter from Churchill to his dentist was also put up for auction. In the letter, Churchill wrote that he was happy to have nominated Fish for knighthood. He also mailed Fish a pair of his dentures and asked him to “tighten them up a little for me.”

“The others are working very well,” he concluded.

Fish was “one of the most eminent dentists of his generation,” according to the British Dental Journal. He was the first president of the General Dental Council and served as a dean at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Other historic artifacts are also for sale in the upcoming auction, including the radio microphone Churchill used to announce the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945. It features a brass plaque with an engraved inscription: “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance. Winston S. Churchill.”

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