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Winston Churchill’s blood is on the auction block

Duke’s auction house appraiser Timothy Medhurst holds a small vial of Winston Churchill’s blood, which will be auctioned next month. (Courtesy Duke’s Auctioneers)

Want to buy Winston Churchill’s blood?

Duke’s auction house in southwest England will auction a small vial of the great wartime prime minister’s blood next month, giving a whole new meaning to his illustrious words: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

The sample was collected in summer 1962 at a teaching hospital in London. While on vacation in Monte Carlo, Churchill fell from his bed and fractured his hip, and was transported to Middlesex Hospital. A nursing student there named Patricia Fitzgibbon took a sample of Churchill’s blood that the hospital never used. And as medical personnel were preparing to throw the vial away, she asked to keep it, the auction house said in a press release.

Fitzgibbon remembered his hospital stay in a 2010 interview.

“I remember that he would never settle at night until after he had read the first edition of all the daily newspapers which he had specially delivered,” she said, according to the auction house. “He habitually smoked cigars in bed … [and] regularly mixed the first and second courses of his meal into one bowl before eating it.”

He died three years later in January 1965. But Fitzgibbon kept his blood until her own death, when she gifted the vial to an old friend who has now decided to sell it in time for the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death.

Auction house spokesman Amy Brenan told The Washington Post that the seven-centimeter vial is still intact, and that the label on the bottle clearly reads “Sir Winston S. Churchill.” However, the specimen inside has not fared as well.

“If you think about it, it’s 50 or 60 years old,” she said. “The blood has shriveled into a small orange blob.”

The vial will be put on the auction block on March 12 in Dorchester along with a declaration from Fitzgibbon about how she got it.

“This is probably the first time that such a personal piece of Churchill’s history has been offered on the open market,” according to the auction house. “This year marks the 50 year anniversary of Churchill’s death – the blood is a poignant reminder of an injury which marked the beginning of the end for Churchill and as such, we expect there to be great interest in it. It could sell for thousands.”

Timothy Medhurst, an auctioneer and appraiser at the auction house, told the Guardian that the lot has been estimated to sell at up to $900, but thought it “impossible to put an accurate estimate on this unique piece of history.”

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