A new organization for Olympic stamp, coin, and memorabilia collectors will take shape in Lausanne this week on the eve of the 20th World Olympic Collectors Fair.
The Association Internationale des Collectioneurs Olympique (AICO) will hold its inaugural meeting on Thursday with representatives from 19 clubs.
"AICO is being established by collectors, for collectors," David Maiden, an IOC advisor and member of the IOC Philately, Numismatics and Memorabilia Commission, tells Around the Rings.
"The IOC is facilitating the process, not directing it."
He says the impetus for AICO came from the dissolution by the IOC of the former organization FIPO (International Federation of Olympic Philately), which was for stamp collectors.
"The IOC view was that it should not control third-party organizations, but rather have a formal relationship with them," Maiden says. "This was not a reflection of the work of FIPO in developing Olympic philately, but a desire to eliminate confusion between the role of the IOC and the role of an organization which represented external stakeholders."
Three years ago, the IOC asked a group of senior officials from collecting clubs to form a working group, which recommended that a new organization be established for all fields of Olympic collecting, not just philately.
"The mission of AICO is to foster quality Olympic philately, numismatics, and memorabilia collecting related to the historical and cultural aspects of the Olympic movement," Maiden says.
AICO will achieve this by being a central point of information sharing on all aspects of Olympic collecting; promoting learning and friendship between Olympic collectors internationally; producing/facilitating publications and events on Olympic collecting; and being a central point of collaboration for Olympic collecting clubs with the IOC.
Maiden says there are 10 candidates for five positions on the Executive Board of AICO, which is "a very welcome sign of the degree of interest among clubs."
Once established, AICO will apply to the IOC to be an officially recognized organization, such as ISOH, which represents Olympic historians.
AICO will not have a formal relationship with the IOC Philately, Numismatics, and Memorabilia Commission.
Other collecting clubs will be able to consider applying for membership. One of the criteria for membership -- a condition introduced by the collecting clubs -- is that the local NOC must have no objection to a club joining AICO.
Worldwide Interest in Fair
About 150 collectors from 18 countries have registered for the fair to be held May 23-25. Maiden says there will be 58 tables for dealers. Some applicants had to be turned away because there was no more room in the 700-square-meter tent at the Place de Navigation on the shore of Lake Geneva. The site is about 500 meters from the Olympic Museum.
Other collectors signed up to attend the social functions that include a cocktail reception and tour of the new Olympic Museum and a dinner there. Maiden also expects about 50 collectors to "walk in," plus a high degree of interest from the general public.
"The Place de Navigation is a very popular place for families to promenade on weekends, and free entry is sure to attract some interest," he says.
"Miracle on Ice" Medal Sells
The 1980 Olympic gold medal won by hockey player Mark Pavelich sold for $262,900 in an online auction.
Pavelich had the assist on Mike Eruzione’s game-winning goal for Team USA against the USSR in their round-robin game.
The sale by Heritage Auctions of Dallas fell short of the $310,700 fetched in 2010 by the "Miracle on Ice" gold medal that had belonged to Mark Wells. Wells had initially sold the medal privately, reportedly for $40,000. The record for an Olympic medal is $1.4 million for one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens in 1936.
There were 20 players on the 1980 Olympic hockey team.
1936 Basketball Goes on Block
The basketball used in the first Olympic gold-medal game is still bouncing around. A Canadian whose father played on the team that lost to the United States in Berlin in 1936 tried to sell it last year through Heritage Auctions. The estimate was $150,000, but the sale never went through.
Now Jim Stewart has consigned the yellow, lumpy, deflated ball to Goldin Auctions. It will be part of a huge sale in Baltimore on July 11-12 that is primarily focused on Babe Ruth baseball items. The starting bid will be $50,000.
Though the ball has historical significance for the United States, which defeated Canada 19-8 in an outdoor game, no American player was quick enough to grab the ball. According to Heritage, it is the only U.S. gold-medal-winning ball that is not in American hands.
Stewart’s father, Jim Sr., the Team Canada captain, made off with the ball and handed it to his wife, Mary, who hid it under a blanket. Some reports said that Mrs. Stewart looked quite pregnant as she departed from the venue. Jim Sr. passed away in 1990.
Stewart hopes to fund the college education of his 11 grandchildren with the proceeds.
If the ball doesn’t sell, Stewart may have it displayed by the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame. The players on the Canadian team came from Windsor.
Lots of Pucks
Sochi Olympic hockey pucks are popular items on eBay, but some collectors may be getting copies instead of those made for Games use.
Original pucks are Sherwood slugs with no lettering around the edge. The reprints are inscribed with words such as "MADE IN CZECH REPUBLIC" or "OFFICIAL." Other pucks are imprinted on only one side and still others have a "fantasy" Sochi logo.
While previous Olympics had only one puck design, there were three for the 2014 Olympics: a purple puck for the Bolshoi arena, a blue puck for the Shayba arena and a gold puck that says "Gold Medal Game." All of the pucks have the same black and white reverse with "XXII Winter Olympics Games and Sochi 2014." There is also a Paralympic puck that is blue and has the Paralympic logo.
The gold-medal pucks have sold for as much as $500 on eBay, with most pucks fetching at least $100 – including many of the reprints. A majority of the pucks have come out of Canada.
The Sochi post-games auction also featured pucks, with some attributed to specific games or goals. However, collectors outside Russia found the auction terms and payment options cumbersome.
Written by Karen Rosen
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