US Coins

Official’s medal among prized lots at auction

Olympic medals are highly prized by their recipients, of course, but they are also avidly pursued by collectors. Among the most sought-after individual medals are those from the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis.

Offered in a July 20 sale by RR Auction with an estimate of $20,000 is an octagonal 40-millimeter copper official’ s participation medal by Dieges & Clust from New York.

The obverse illustrates an idealized running nude athlete, mid-stride, with a laurel branch in his hand.

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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.”

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Among other highly sought after Olympics medals is a gilt silver first-place winner’s medal from the 1920 Antwerp Games that 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, with Hungary, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire 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 awarded to first-place finishers. The result was the thin gold plating rubbed off rather quickly, leaving the medals almost totally silver.

The medal offered in the RR Auction sale still retains some of the gold on the edge and in 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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