Signed by Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, George VI, Eisenhower, Mountbatten, and Many More!
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WWII SHORT SNORTER. U.S. Series 1935 Silver Certificate dollar bill, bearing 25 ink signatures of major figures from World War II, including Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and King George VI. 2pp. (Recto and verso.) Oblong 12mo. N.p., N.d. (Circa 1943 and later). This historic artifact was once owned by Churchill’s valet FRANK SAWYERS (1903-1972) who has added his signature “F. Sawyers,” and noted on the bill’s verso, “Marrakech Chapter,” suggesting that Churchill and FDR signed this dollar bill after meeting in Casablanca in January 1943. The identifiable signers include:
Winston S. Churchill. (1874-1965; “Winston S. Churchill”).Distinguished soldier, author and statesman, who rose to the height of fame during World War II while First Lord of the Admiralty and, following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, as prime minister beginning in 1940. A bold leader, his moving wartime speeches and radio broadcasts were a source of inspiration to the British public. Churchill remained in office through the end of the war and, after a hiatus of several years, returned to hold the post from 1951-1955.
Joseph Stalin. (1878-1953; “И. Сталин”). Leader of the Soviet Union from 1922-1952, who met with Churchill and Roosevelt at several different conferences during World War II to plan military strategy and, after the war, discuss Europe’s reorganization. Earlier conferences with British diplomats in Moscow in 1941 and with Churchill and American diplomats in Moscow in 1942 largely focused on war planning and supplies. In 1943, Stalin famously met Churchill and Roosevelt at the Tehran Conference and in the following year the Soviet dictator met Churchill at the Moscow Conference. In February 1945, at the Yalta Conference, Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern Europe. Churchill and Roosevelt eventually persuaded him not to dismember Germany.
Franklin D. Roosevelt. (1882-1945; “Franklin D. Roosevelt”). Thirty-second president of the United States from 1933-1945. Prior to U.S. entry into the war, Roosevelt secretly met Churchill in August 1941, and together they drafted the Atlantic Charter thatset the post-war goals that were later agreed to by all the Allies. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met on numerous occasions during the war including the 1943 Tehran Conference where the Allies and Stalin planned their offensive against Germany and the invasion of France, and the Yalta Conference in 1945.
Dwight D. Eisenhower. (1890-1969; “Dwight D. Eisenhower”). United States Army general during World War II and president from 1953-1961. Eisenhower served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch (1942-1943) and the successful D-Day invasion of France and Germany. Following his distinguished service in World War II and his leadership as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 1951-1952, Eisenhower returned to the U.S. a military hero; he became the only 20th-century general to ascend to the nation’s highest office.
King George VI. (1895-1952; “George RI”). Reigned over the United Kingdom from 1936-1952. In 1939, following Britain’s declaration of War on Nazi Germany, King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth, resolved to stay in London and reside at Buckingham Palace despite the German bombing raids (one of which nearly killed them). Throughout World War II King George VI made various morale-boosting visits to Allied military forces abroad including those stationed in France in December 1939, North Africa and Malta in June 1943, Normandy in June 1944, southern Italy in July 1944, and the Low Countries in October 1944. On each Tuesday, from 1940-1944, King George VI met privately with Churchill to discuss the war, becoming “the closest personal relationship in modern British history between a monarch and a Prime Minister,” (King George VI, Judd).
King Peter II. (1923-1970; “Peter II R.”). King of Yugoslavia from 1934-1945. Following the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy (all of whom annexed various parts of the country), King Peter II fled to London where he joined other governments in exile from Nazi occupied Europe. The king was commissioned in the Royal Air Force and, in 1942, made an ambassadorial visit to America, meeting Roosevelt, in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to secure Allied support for the exiled Yugoslav monarchist cause. Roosevelt and Churchill had, however, already engaged the support of the Communist Yugoslav government in the Allied effort to defeat Nazi Germany.
Anthony Eden. (1897-1977; “Anthony Eden”). 1st Earl of Avon, who succeeded Churchill as prime minister in 1955 after having served as his deputy for almost fifteen years. Eden was foreign secretary during most of World War II from 1940-1945, and briefly served as secretary of state for war in 1940. He was one of Churchill’s closest confidants, but his role as foreign secretary during the war was restricted as Churchill himself conducted the most important negotiations with Roosevelt and Stalin.
Louis Mountbatten. (1900-1979; “L. Mountbatten”). 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma was a British Admiral of the Fleet and one of Churchill’s favorites. He served as Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command, from 1943-1946, and accompanied Churchill when he met Roosevelt at the January 1943 Casablanca Conference, which Stalin declined to attend.
Harold Alexander. (1891-1969; “H. R. Alexander”). 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis was a British field marshal who oversaw the final stages of the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk and, later, held high ranking field commands in Burma, North Africa and Italy, including Commander-in-Chief Middle East and commanding the 18th Army Group in Tunisia. Alexander then led the 15th Army Group to capture Sicily and ended the war as Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean.
Alan Brooke. (1883-1963; “A. F. Brooke”). 1st Viscount Alanbrooke was a British Field Marshal who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, during World War II. As Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Brooke was Churchill’s leading military adviser and acted as coordinator of the British military efforts in the Allies’ victory in 1945.
Arthur Tedder. (1890-1967; “A. Tedder”). 1st Baron Tedder was a British marshal of the Royal Air Force, who served as Air Officer Commanding RAF Middle East Command during World War II, directing air operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa, the evacuation of Crete, and Operation Crusader in North Africa. Later in the war, Tedder took command of Mediterranean Air Command and, as such, was closely involved in planning the Allied invasion of Sicily and then Italy. Tedder was appointed Deputy Supreme Commander at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) under Dwight Eisenhower during the planning of Operation Overlord.
Hastings Ismay. (1887-1965; “H. Ismay”). 1st Baron Ismay, was a British Indian Army general and diplomat. During World War II, he served as Churchill’s chief military assistant, becoming the principal link between the Prime Minister and the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Ismay accompanied Churchill on numerous wartime conferences including Casablanca, Washington, Quebec, Cairo, and Tehran, all of which took place during 1943. Ismay also accompanied Lord Beaverbrook to the first Moscow Conference in 1941 and Anthony Eden to the third Moscow Conference in 1943.
Max Aitken. (1879-1964; “Beaverbrook”). 1st Baron Beaverbrook was a Canadian businessman, politician and newspaper publisher as well as Churchill’s close friend and confidant. Beaverbrook was appointed minister of Aircraft Production (1940-41) by the prime minister and also went on to serve Churchill as minister of Supply (1941-42), minister of War Production (1942) and lord privy seal (1943-45). In 1941, Beaverbrook headed the British delegation to Moscow with W. Averell Harriman, making Beaverbrook the first senior British politician to meet Stalin since Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Beaverbrook also accompanied Churchill to several wartime meetings with Roosevelt, with whom he enjoyed a friendly relationship.
Randolph Churchill. (1911-1968; “R. S. Churchill”). Churchill’s only son and a British journalist and politician. He played an active role during World War II, both politically and militarily. Rising to the rank of major, he saw action in the Western Desert Theatre and joined the newly formed Special Air Service (SAS) on a mission in the Libyan Desert. Churchill encouraged the conversion of Vichy fighters to De Gaulle’s army and went on a diplomatic mission to Yugoslavia in 1944.
W. Averell Harriman. (1891-1986; “A. Harriman”). Harriman was an American politician and diplomat who served under President Roosevelt as a special envoy to Europe, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1943-1946, and the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain in 1946. He was present at a number of important meetings and conferences during World War II including the meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt at Placentia Bay in 1941 (which led to the Atlantic Charter), the Moscow Conference of 1942, Tehran in 1943, and Yalta and Potsdam in 1945.
Kathleen Harriman. (1917-2011; “Kathleen Harriman”). W. Averell Harriman’s daughter, Kathleen, was a journalist and in 1944, as her father’s representative, accompanied foreign correspondents to the Katyn forest in western Russia, where thousands of Polish officers had been massacred earlier in the war. The journalists were brought there to report on the autopsies of the exhumed bodies, part of a Russian disinformation campaign to promote the idea that Nazi Germany perpetrated the slaughter. The myth (aided by many unwitting news agencies) that the Nazis had carried out the atrocities endured for decades until Russia admitted its responsibility. In 1945, Harriman accompanied her father to the Yalta Conference.
Roy W. Howard. (1883-1964; “Roy W. Howard”). An American journalist and president of United Press, Howard, in 1936, was granted an interview with Stalin. A supporter of Roosevelt in his initial Presidential election, his relationship with the president later soured. White House documents dating from World War II revealed that Roosevelt had ordered that Howard should not be issued a passport or sent overseas as a foreign correspondent.
Sawyers served as Churchill’s valet during World War II, leaving his service shortly after at the war’s conclusion. Sawyers would have accompanied Churchill on many domestic and foreign trips, certainly to the conferences held in Casablanca, Moscow, Tehran, and Yalta. On such trips, Sawyers evidently had access to many of the important individuals in Churchill’s company and took such opportunities to enlarge his collection of significant signatures on his short snorter.
“Perhaps the quirkiest of summit rituals was the short-snorter game. Invented by Alaskan bush pilots, it had been embraced by Presidents, Prime Ministers, ambassadors and generals alike. The rules were simple. A group of people travelling together signed banknotes recording who was present. Anybody unable to produce the banknote upon request at a subsequent meeting was obliged to buy a drink (a ‘short snort’) for his companions. Previous conferences had resulted in countless short snorters signed by everybody from Churchill to George C. Patton. At the second Yalta plenary session, Harry Hopkins made it his business to get Stalin’s signature on a short snorter for his photographer son, Robert. FDR and Churchill had no hesitation signing the ten-ruble note bearing the sacrosanct image of Vladimir Lenin, but Stalin balked, obviously mystified. Roosevelt explained the rules, adding that anybody who flew across the Atlantic could join the club, provided that he was invited by at least two existing members. This gave Stalin an easy way out. He pointed out that he had never flown across the Atlantic and was therefore ineligible. ‘I am taking it upon myself to waive that requirement in this instance,’ replied the president magnanimously. The vozhd signed - but was not amused,” (Six Months in 1945 - FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman - From World War to Cold War, Dobbs).
In January 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt and members of the allied command secretly met in Morocco for the now-famous Casablanca Conference. On the last day, the press was invited to hear their statement which demanded the unconditional surrender of the Axis forces. Before Roosevelt’s departure, Churchill suggested that he join him in nearby Marrakech, a favorite destination of his since the 1930s, which he called the Paris of the Sahara. “’You cannot come all the way to North Africa without seeing Marrakesh,’ Churchill told a skeptical Roosevelt, who wanted to return immediately to the United States to concentrate on running the war effort. ‘Let us spend two days there,’ Churchill persisted. ‘I must be with you when you see the sun set on the Atlas Mountains.’ And so, on January 23 1943, the two wartime leaders left Casablanca for the five-hour drive to Marrakesh… At Churchill’s insistence, two of his staff made a chair of their arms to carry the wheelchair-bound Roosevelt up the winding stairs to the roof of the tower to watch the spectacle. As Celia Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter, has recounted in her book Travels with Winston Churchill, Roosevelt was clearly taken by the moment. Reclining on a divan, Roosevelt remarked to Churchill: ‘I feel like a sultan: you may kiss my hand, my dear.’ In his diary, Churchill’s doctor recorded: ‘We stood gazing at the purple hills, where the light was changing every minute.’ Churchill himself murmured: ‘It’s the most lovely spot in the world.’ Refreshed, Roosevelt left Marrakesh the following morning, while Churchill opted to stay one day longer to do some painting. During the afternoon he painted a view of the Atlas Mountains, which was the only picture he painted during the war,” (“Marrakesh: Where Churchill and Roosevelt Played Hookey,” The Telegraph, Coughlin).
All the signatures are written in fountain pen and, by the very nature of the short snorter, some are more legible than others. It is of particular interest that the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, most likely deliberately, chose to sign his name right across the face of President George Washington at the center of the dollar bill.
Some light overall age wear, otherwise very good. An exceptionally rare collection of signatures by some of World War II’s most important political and military leaders, including “The Big Three,” Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.
American Book Prices Current records only a small handful of autographs by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin together on one piece sold at auction, including a White House card signed at the Tehran Conference ($65,000, Profiles in History, 2014), another White House card signed by all three from the Forbes Collection and contained in an album ($22,000, Christie’s New York, 2010) and a United States card signed at the Potsdam Conference (£15,000 [$26,258], Christie’s, 2003).
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