Session Badges, Rarities for Olympic Auction

(ATR) Rarities are notable in an Olympic memorabilia auction ending Saturday: a silver medal from the St. Moritz Olympics, a 1906 badge for a member of the American Olympic Committee and a complete run of IOC Session and Congress badges from 1977 through 2010. Karen Rosen reports.

(ATR) A rare silver winner’s medal from the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics, a 1906 badge for a member of the "American" Olympic Committee, the rare Volume 5 of the 1968 Mexico City official report and a complete run of IOC Session and Congress badges from 1977 through 2010 highlight a memorabilia auction closing Saturday.

Ingrid O’Neil, based in Corona Del Mar, Calif., is offering 823 lots in her 65th Olympic Memorabilia mail bid auction. Bids will also be accepted by phone, fax and email until 11 p.m. EST Saturday. The auction catalog is available online at

St. Moritz winner’s medals from 1928 are relatively common in bronze and O’Neil tells Around the Rings she has seen a few in gold, but silver medals are extremely rare. "I had one in 1996 in Atlanta (at a live auction) and this one here," she says. The estimate was $17,500, but bidding has already reached double that amount.

Rare Gold Badges

The American Olympic Committee badge is made of unmarked gold and is inscribed "Member" and "Olympic Games Held Athens, Greece." It has the Amateur Athletic Union logo, U.S. and Greek shields and is attached to a blue and white ribbon, the Greek colors, beneath a separate bar that says American Committee.

The badge comes with a box lined in velvet and silk and has an estimate of $2,500.

"As far as I know, it’s the first American Olympic Committee member’s badge," O’Neil says.

Another beautiful gold badge, this one marked 14 karat, is inscribed with the name of a player on the American soccer team in Paris in 1924. It has the Statue of Liberty as a motif and an estimate of $2,000.

Both badges were made by well-known U.S. manufacturer Dieges & Clust.

Official Report with Goodies

Many collectors of official reports have only four volumes from Mexico City.

"Most people don’t even know about Volume 5," O’Neil says. "I didn’t know for the longest time."

Each Volume 5 -- which is actually a box of goodies - contains different items. According to the index for this example, it should hold items ranging from pennants and toys to programs, tickets, patches, records, stamps, an official equestrian badge and "air" from Mexico City. O’Neil says a participation medal and an Olympic coin are the only items missing.

"This is something completely different, like nothing that had ever been done before, nor since then," she says.

O’Neil is offering the first four volumes of the report separately – in Spanish and German – for an estimate of $850, while Volume 5 has an estimate of $2,500.

Session Badges Galore

Now that credentials are issued for the Olympic Games, IOC session badges are the only metal badges with ribbons that represent the Games. Those attract many collectors, who then acquire badges from sessions and congresses in non-Olympic years.

O’Neil says at least one of the badges from 1977 (79th Session) through 2010 (122nd Session) has a white ribbon, since she obtained them on consignment from an unnamed IOC member. In the catalog, the name has been blurred, but winning collectors will find out the provenance.

"Now I know the IOC member badges have a name on them," O’Neil says, "and the wife, or guest, badge has a white ribbon and no name."

The badges with white ribbons range from $225-$400. The auction also offers a rare stickpin from the 25th IOC session in Monaco in 1927 for $750.

Those looking to complete a set of IOC plaques and medals will find a bronze medal from 1894, commemorating the reestablishment of the Olympic Games ($2,500), a 20th anniversary bronze plaque from 1914 with a bust of Pierre de Coubertin ($1,250), a 30th anniversary medal from 1924 ($750), a 50th anniversary medal from 1944 ($275) and a pin O’Neil considers the last in the series, a 60th anniversary Austrian pin from 1954 ($100).

"There are quite a few collectors who collect these early IOC medals," she says. "The 1894 medal rarely comes up."

Winners Aren’t Just People

Besides several other winners medals (including a gold from 1928 Amsterdam for $9,000, a silver from 1932 Los Angeles at $8,500 and a silver from Turin for $14,500), the auction also features two colorful ribbons awarded to winning horses. One is from team dressage in 1984 Los Angeles (estimate of $3,500) and the other in team dressage from 2000 Sydney (estimate of $2,250).

"Most people don’t realizethe horse gets something, too," O’Neil says. "They hang it over their ear."

Carrying the Flame

Torches are always popular and the auction includes a rare 1956 Melbourne torch for $19,000, as well as the more common 2010 Vancouver torch for $2,250.

Looking for something more offbeat that also carried the Olympic flame? A propane security lamp from the 1976 Montreal Olympics is one of only two in existence. Made of glass and golden brass mounted on a wooden black and red painted cube, it was used along the flame’s journey from Ottawa to Montreal. It has an estimate of $7,500.

Did You Know About…

O’Neil also has an official’s badge from the infamous "Anthropology Day" of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, held in conjunction with the Olympics. On that day, aboriginal people from various continents competed in sports competitions. It comes in its original box, although the purple ribbon is disconnected from the bar. It has an estimate of $2,500.

Many mascot collectors have only recently become aware of a 1972 Sapporo mascot, a bear. O’Neil has the bear on a sled ($500) and on skis, but missing the poles ($150). Both can also be used as a savings bank.

This and That

All seven U.S. women who have won the Olympic gold medal in figure skating have signed a pair of skates, from Tenley Albright to Sarah Hughes. As a bonus, two-time champion Katarina Witt of Germany has also signed the skates, which have an estimate of $600.

If a collector needs something to carry all of his memorabilia, he can pick up a two-foot high duffle bag from the 1956 Cortina Olympics, complete with drawstring on top, for as little as $100.

"There is a collector for anything," O’Neil says.

Auction at Collectors Fair

O’Neil has kept back about 60 lots for a public auction to be held in conjunction with the IOC World Olympic Collector’s Fair outside Chicago on Aug. 6.

Those lots include a trophy from the 1904 St. Louis Olympics for bicycling and a prize from a predecessor of the modern Olympic Games, the Shropshire Olympian Games 3rd annual meeting held at Wenlock, in September 1862. Wenlock is the name of one of the 2012 London mascots.

Written by Karen Rosen

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