Olympic medal and memorabilia sale tops 500 thousand
- Published: Jan 26, 2016, 3 AM
A gold winner's medal awarded during the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, realized $47,746.83 in RR Auction's Jan. 21 sale of Olympic medals, torches and related memorabilia.
A gold winner's medal from the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles realized $41,806.80. A gold boxing medal presented to American boxer Wilbert "Skeeter" McClure at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome brought $30,202.38.
The top price paid for an Olympic torch was $46,184.95 for a torch associated with the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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The auction brought total prices realized of $542,693.53 for the 83 lots sold, of 101 offered. A buyer's fee of 22.5 percent was added to the final closing hammer price of each lot won.
The 1924 Chamonix medal is one of only 33 gold medals issued during the 1924 Winter Games. The description for the lot, which carried an estimate of $35,000 to $40,000, does not identify to whom the medal was awarded nor for what event. A total of 294 athletes from 16 nations competed in the games.
The gilt silver medal measuring 55 millimeters in diameter and weighing 75 grams was designed by French Olympian and artist Raoul René Alphonse Bénard.
The obverse features a victorious athlete holding ice skates and skis high in the air with the Alps in the background.
Inscribed at length in French on the reverse is CHAMONIX MONT-BLANC SPORTS D’HIVER 25 JANVIER–5 FEVRIER 1924 ORGANISÉS PAR LE COMITÉ OLYMPIQUE FRANÇAIS SOUS LE HAUT PATRONAGE DU COMITÉ INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIQUE A L’OCCASION DE LA CELEBRATION DE LA VIII OLYMPIADE, which translates to English as "Chamonix Mont-Blanc Winter Sports, 25 January–5 February 1924, Organized by the French Olympic Committee under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee on the occasion of the celebration of the VIII Olympiad."
Inscribed incuse on the plain edge is ARGENT, French for "silver." The medal is accompanied by its original red leather presentation box.
Los Angeles gold
The gold winner’s medal issued for the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics is composed of gilt silver, 63.5 millimeters in diameter and weighs 142.5 grams. The medal was updated by Dugald Stermer from Indianapolis. The obverse is inscribed, XXIII OLYMPIAD, LOS ANGELES 1984, and features a "Seated Victory" with the Colosseum in the background; the reverse portrays a victorious athlete being carried by a jubilant crowd. The medal, complete with its original magenta, vermillion, and yellow ribbon, was one of 478 of these gold medals produced for the Los Angeles Summer Games.
The gold medal presented to American boxer Wilbert "Skeeter" McClure for capturing the light middleweight division during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome is one of 10 winners' medals presented to the first-place finishers in each of the 10 weight divisions in boxing. It is the same type of medal presented to the winning boxer in the light heavyweight division — the man then known as Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
According to the auction company, McClure's medal was obtained from the boxer in 2002, and this was the first time the medal was offered at auction.
The winners' medals designed by Italian sculptor Guiseppe Cassioli were the first designed to be worn around the neck. The medals were also the first for any Summer Games to feature the name of the specific sport for which each was being awarded.
Although awarded as a top prize gold medal, the medal is actually composed of gilt silver, measuring 68 millimeters in diameter and weighing 102 grams.
The obverse design features a victorious Olympic athlete being carried on the shoulders of a jubilant crowd. The reverse, inscribed GIOCHI DELLA XVII OLIMPIADE ROMA MCMLX, features a rendition of Victory seated, with the Colosseum in the background.
McClure's medal is set in its original cast bronze olive leaf chain, inscribed at the bottom with the name of the sport, boxing, in Italian, as PUGILATO.
The medal is accompanied by its original presentation box along with a color photo signed in gold ink "To Dick R., Thanks, Skeeter."
The signed photo depicts McClure on the medals stage with Clay to his left (at center) and American boxer Eddie Crook, to Clay's left (the far right position in the photo).
The following is the auction lot description by RR Auction for the Calgary Winter Olympics torch:
"Exceptionally rare official 1988 Calgary Olympics torch, comprised of aluminum with a maple handle, measuring 23.5? in length, emblazoned on the handle with pictograms of ten Winter Olympic sports. The top is inscribed, “XV Olympic Winter Games Calgary Alberta Canada 1988,” and the ball at the bottom is engraved with the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” This example is unused and retains its four original wicks above a canister. Also includes its original black carrying bag. The torch was designed to resemble the Calgary Tower, an iconic landmark in the Canadian city. The torch relay was an enormous event, with approximately 6,500 torchbearers drawn from an application pool of over six million. After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame was flown to Newfoundland. The torch traveled 18,000 km through Canada over 88 days. Unlike many relays, the torches were shared and thus only about one hundred were manufactured. This is a marvelous example of the utmost rarity."
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