Odhams Press Limited. London. 1947.
FOUR VOLUMES. First Odhams Press editions. 8vo. (8.5 x 5.7 inches). Finely bound for Churchill, by Zaehnsdorf bookbinders, for presentation. My early life is inscribed ‘To Air Commodore G. Powell from Winston S. Churchill. 1948’, Thoughts and Adventures is signed ’W S Churchill’, and the other two volumes are initialled by Churchill, all in black ink on the front blank endpapers.
These are later editions of earlier titles but all four are the first printings of these Odhams Press editions, and are four of an unknown number of Odhams printings that were specially bound for presentation by Churchill. Bound by Zaehnsdorf, and with their gilt name stamp to the inner front boards, in full red morocco. Spines with raised bands, each with gilt piping. The compartments ruled and lettered in gilt. Double gilt ruled borders to the boards. All four front boards have a gilt stamped facsimile of Churchill’s signature to the bottom of the panel. Board edges double ruled in gilt. Decorative gilt rolled inner dentelles. Marbled endpapers. Top edges gilt. Great Contemporaries has a small mark to the bottom of the spine otherwise the binding is clean and bright. The other three volumes all have staining to the bindings on the boards and spines and a couple have some bowing but they are all still attractive and sound. The blank endpapers have some offsetting around the edges and matching the lines of the endpapers. Some occasional foxing to some of the text pages but generally clean and tidy books throughout.
The recipient of these four books was Air Commodore Griffith ‘Taffy’ Powell, a pilot who frequently flew Churchill both during the war with R A F Ferry Command and after when he was a commercial pilot, where he pioneered the development of Silver Cities Air Ferries, flying passengers and their cars between Britain and the continent. He is said to have offered Churchill free flights during his wilderness years and these books were probably given as a thank you for this generosity as well as Powell’s war time work. He wrote a book about his years as a pilot, ‘Ferryman: from Ferry Command to Silver City’, which was published in England in 1982. The book contains mention of these volumes ‘After his last flight to North Africa he (Churchill) gave me a handsomely bound and autographed set of his early works... ’ , and a photo of Powell, stood outside of an aircraft with Churchill. A copy of the first edition of this book is included with the 4 Churchill books.
I do not know how many books from these Odhams editions were bound for presentation but they are not common. I had three of these titles, in identical bindings, and all inscribed, signed and initialled by Churchill to the same person, back in 2006 but have not seen any others since.