Collectors' Corner - Athens, Berlin Memorabilia Highlight Latest Olympic Auctions

(ATR) Rare items from the 1896, 1906 and 2004 Athens Olympics highlight a Greek mail and Internet auction. Elusive stamps and unique 1936 Berlin memorabilia go on the block in Geneva. Two IOC Commission members offer their collections.

(ATR) An official Olympic cauldron used in Athens during the 2004 international torch relay that visited 27 countries highlights an auction of rare memorabilia conducted by the first family of Greek Olympic collecting.

The Douramakos mail bid auction, which closes Saturday, features many rare items from the 1896, 1906 and 2004 Athens Olympics. The cauldron, which was part of the ceremony in Athens, carries a minimum bid of $48,500 and is the most expensive piece in the 254-item auction. Expect shipping to add a hefty fee as well.

The cauldron is offered at auction for the first time, along with a prototype torch from the 2004 Games for $18,000. An ordinary, but unused, torch is $1,650. Many other torches from 1936 until 2008 are also available.

"I consider our auction to always have an advantage for items from the 1896 and 1906 Games and Olympic torches," Stathis Douramakos tells Around the Rings. "Greece is the only country you can find almost all the torches since the Olympic Flame lighting and first torch relay are permanently in Greece."

Seldom-seen programs and regulations from the 1896 Olympics ($1,200-$1,800) and an official report in Greek and French ($2,400) are part of the written history of the first Modern Olympics. A guide of Athens by the Olympic Committee that includes a fold-out map of the city ($1,800) stands out among the 1906 offerings, which also feature several tickets ($600-700). For medal enthusiasts, there is a complete set of gold, silver and bronze winners medals in their original boxes.The gold alone is priced at $12,500.

Some collectors shy away from the 1906 Games because of their "in-between" status, but Douramakos says that "not only should these Games be considered Official International Olympic Games since they were held with the full support of the IOC, but they should also be named honorary, to honor their significance for the continuation of the Olympic Games and Olympic Movement as a whole."

Douramakos says that there is also a misconception that Pierre de Courberin, founder of the modern Olympics, did not support the Games. "This is not entirely true," he says. "Since 1896 he himself had suggested that even though the Games would be awarded every four years to different countries every time, Greece should organize and perform intermediate Games on a permanent basis. It was political instability within Greece and problems of the time that did not allow this to continue over time and finally the idea was abandoned."

Other distinctive items include an amphorae-shaped dress worn by the women leading the athletes into the stadium for the 2004 Olympic ceremony ($5,800) and personal gifts for the King of Jordan from the 2004 organizing committee ($3,500) and for an IOC member during the 2004 lighting ceremony in Olympia ($3,500).

Stamps and Berlin 1936 Goodies in Geneva

David Feldman of Geneva offers another batch of items from the John Loaring Collection, which was the foremost 1936 Berlin collection in the world.

The 627-lot auction will be a live sale in the Feldman Galleries on Dec. 6 (2 p.m. Geneva time), with Internet bidding as well.

An official badge album described as one of a kind and "truly a wonderful exhibition collection" has 32 badges, including the extremely rare gold ones with the Brandenburg gate logo, plus an organizing committee badge with the name of Berlin chief Dr. Diem. There are also 22 detached ribbons that represent each of the sports. The estimate for the eight-page album is a princely $40,000-$70,000.

About three dozen separate 1936 badges are also available, at prices starting at $1,070.

Every ticket office was also given an album showing every type of ticket and pass. This 30-plus page album has an estimate of $20,000-27,000.

Other 1936 items range from cigarette lighters ($450) to sculptures, such as the javelin thrower awarded to Helmut Hamann, a member of the German 4x400 meter relay team ($5,350) or the Eagle awarded to Gerhard Gustmann, who won gold in the men's coxed pairs ($2,675).

There is plenty of material for philatelists, including unique die proofs of 1896 stamps, which have museum importance, according to the auctioneer, and carry estimates of up to $80,000 for the 10 Drachma framed die proof in black depicting the Parthenon.

Unusual items from the cancelled Olympics of 1940 in Tokyo and Helsinki will also go on the block, including seven different vignettes in a composite sheetlet from Helsinki ($2,000). Stamps issued by a P.O.W. camp in 1944 have an estimate of $134.

More common items, such as pins, medals and torches are also well represented.

IOC Commission Member Collections

It's no surprise that members of the IOC's Olympic Philately, Numismatic and Memorabilia Commission, informally called the Collectors' Commission, would have outstanding collections. Two of these members are ready to part with their treasures.

Jim Greensfelder of the U.S., one of the newer members of the commission, assembled a near-complete set of Olympic participation medals, which includes all of the varieties he could find. The 1912 gold participation medal eluded him, with two of the three given to members of the Swedish royal family, but Greensfelder acquired one of five gold Rome participation medals and one of two silver Sarajevo versions seen in collections.

There are 215 medals in the collection and the price is $360,000.

"I have three grandkids and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to their college education," Greensfelder tells ATR. "I still remain a collector specializing in Olympic beer steins and glasses. I have about 400 of them."

The Maurizio Tecardi Collections of the 1896 and 1906 Athens Olympic Games, an outstanding philatelic offering, is also available for private sale. Tecardi is a prominent Italian collector who is a longtime member of the IOC commission. The collection includes a complete set of 11 values from 1 Lepta to 10 Drachma in complete mint, never-hinged sheets. It is the only complete set known, according to Feldman.

Specialized cancellations are among other items available, with prices by request. Feldman did not respond to an inquiry about the prices.

Greenspan Memorabilia Sells

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