US Coins

Olympic gold, silver, bronze medals at auction

The gold medal presented to American boxer Wilbert "Skeeter" McClure for capturing the light middleweight division during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome is crossing the auction block.

RR Auction in Boston is offering the medal with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000. Bidding opens Jan. 14 and closes Jan. 21.

The medal is one of 101 Olympic medals and memorabilia lots being offered in the sale. The lots include gold, silver and bronze winners' medals; participation medals; Olympic torches; and related Olympic items.

The medal awarded to McClure 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 but who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

According to the auction company, McClure's medal was obtained from the boxer in 2002, and now is the first time the medal is being 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 "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).

First Winter Olympics

Among the earliest medals to be offered in the sale is a gold winner's medal awarded during the first Winter Olympics, held in Chamonix, France, in 1924.

The medal is one of only 33 gold medals issued during the 1924 Winter Games. The auction lot, which carries 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.

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.

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