This is a shortened version of a story that appeared yesterday on the BBC’s website. Please read the last line first.
Some people with a natural speech impediment make efforts to overcome it or cover it up.
But Winston Churchill came to value his as a vital weapon in the war effort.
In his wartime radio broadcasts, Churchill’s distinctive voice was instantly recognizable. He wanted it to stay that way, so he had his dentures designed specifically to preserve his lisp.
They were made by a young dental technician called Derek Cudlipp, and a set of the dentures has been in his family since Churchill’s death – but have been sold at auction for £15,200.
“Vital to war effort”
The son of Churchill’s denture maker, Nigel Cudlipp, describes his father’s relationship with the leader.
“Churchill said that he would be more important to the war effort if he stayed in London to repair his dentures.”
“Churchill used to flick out his dentures when he was angry and throw them across the room,” said Mr Cudlipp.
“My father used to say he could tell how the war was going by how far they flew.”
For the last few years Mr. Cudlipp has kept the dentures in a drawer at his house. He is selling them at auction because he feels they should be on public display.
“These really are the teeth that saved the world,” said the museum’s head of learning, Jane Hughes.
“Without them, ‘Fight them on the beaches’ would never have sounded the same. They were vital to the war effort.”
Keys Auctioneers in Aylsham in Norfolk is building a reputation for dealing in Churchill memorabilia. Recently it sold one of Churchill’s half-smoked cigars for £4,500.
And the sale of Churchill’s dentures has attracted plenty of attention.
“We’ve had enquiries from all over the world,” said auctioneer Andrew Bullock.
“We’ve never seen this much interest in any item we’ve sold. We’ve valued the dentures at £4,000–5,000, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went for ten times that.”
Never has so much attention been paid by so many to so few teeth.