Olympic participation medals set for auction
- Published: Jun 29, 2017, 12 PM
Separate collections of participation medals from the Summer and Winter Olympic Games and rare issues from individual competitions are among the lots being offered in RR Auction’s online sale closing July 20.
The set containing 31 participation medals from the Summer Olympics spans from the 1896 Games in Athens, Greece, through to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Among the top medals included are a 1916 Berlin Summer Olympics Trials Winner’s bronze medal and a 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics Participation medal in bronze.
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The 50-millimeter bronze 1916 medal was issued for the German Olympic Trials prior to the official Games, which were canceled due to the outbreak of World War I.
A portrait of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II appears on the medal’s obverse.
The reverse inscriptions translate to English as “The winner in the Olympic trials contest” above a laurel sprig, with what translates to “The German Committee for the Olympic Games” around the perimeter.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics bronze participation medal is 70 millimeters in diameter.
Designed by Otto Placzek, the obverse features five athletes, representing the five continents that sent participants, pulling the ropes of the Olympic bell.
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The bell is depicted on the reverse within five concentric circles and is embossed with a German eagle that grips the five Olympic rings. A German legend adorns the lower edge of the bell.
Placzek’s name appears on the medal’s outer edge.
The 31-medal lots carries an estimate of $15,000+.
With an estimate of $30,000+, the collection of Winter Olympic medals numbers 22 pieces.
Among the pieces included are a 55-millimeter bronze third-place winner’s medal from the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France.
The 1924 Games were the first Winter Olympics, with 294 athletes representing 16 nations.
Designed by French artist Raoul Benard, the Chamonix medal is accompanied by its original presentation box.
The medal’s obverse features a victorious athlete holding ice skates and skis high in the air with the Alps in the background.
The reverse is extensively inscribed in French with dates and information about the Games.
1904 St. Louis
Among the most sought-after individual medals are those from the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis.
Offered with an estimate of $20,000 is an octagonal 40-millimeter copper official’s participation medal produced by the firm of Dieges & Clust from New York.
The obverse illustrates an idealized nude athlete running, mid-stride, with a laurel branch in his hand.
The reverse is inscribed with the lengthy text, “1803, Universal Exposition Commemorating the Olympic Games, 1904, Physical Culture Department, Frederick J. V. Skiff, Director of Exhibits,” encircled by ivy leaves with the shield emblems of St. Louis, France, and the United States.
According to the auction lot description: “Topped with a loop, this type of medal was originally suspended from a colorful ribbon and issued only to officials; those issued to athletes were identical, but lacked the loop and instead had an entirely plain edge.”
A gilt silver first-place winner’s medal from the 1920 Antwerp Games carries an estimate of $12,000+.
The medal is accompanied by its original red leather presentation case gilt-printed on the lid.
Designed by Josue Dupon, the medal’s obverse features a victorious athlete holding a laurel wreath and palm branch, with a statue of Renommee in the background.
The reverse depicts the Brabo fountain above the Antwerp shield, with suggestions of a cathedral and cityscape in the background.
A total of 29 nations attended the VII Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium, while Hungary, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire were all banned from competing due to their involvement in World War I and the cancelation of the 1916 Summer Games scheduled for Berlin.
Among the fallouts from the 1920 Games were financial difficulties for the Games.
As a cost-cutting measure, less gold was used to gild the silver-based medals for first-place finishers. The result was the gold plating rubbed off rather quickly, leaving the medals to look almost totally silver.
The medal offered in the RR Auction sale still retains some of the gold on the edge and recessed areas of the designs.
The Amherst, N.H., firm will assess a buyer’s fee of 22.5 percent, added to the final hammer price of each lot won.
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