NGC-graded Olympic Medals Featured in Upcoming Spink and Attica Auctions

Posted on 3/29/2023

In April, collectors will have the opportunity to bid on rare and historic NGC-certified Olympic medals.

Olympic medals have been awarded since the introduction of the modern games in 1896. Each represents the upper echelons of athletic performance achieved by the world’s top competitors. Some, however, hold unique distinctions that qualify them as particularly rare and historic memorabilia coveted by collectors around the world.

Two such medals, each certified by Numismatic Guaranty Company® (NGC®), will be offered at auctions in April. The first, which is featured in Attica Auctions' World Coins, Banknotes and Medals auction, is a first-place medal awarded during the first modern Olympiad held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The second, which is a featured lot in Spink's Orders, Decorations and Medals auction taking place on April 4, is an extremely rare first-place medal that was awarded during the historic 1936 Berlin Olympiad.

1896 Athens Silver Medal

The Greece 1896 Athens Olympic Games Silver First Place Medal graded NGC MS 62 features a stunning design by the celebrated French artist Jules-Clement Chaplain. The obverse shows the Greek god Zeus holding a globe upon which stands Nike, the winged goddess of victory, holding an olive branch. The reverse shows the Greek Parthenon perched atop the Acropolis with an inscription in Greek that reads “International Olympic Games - Athens 1896.”

Greece 1896 Athens Olympic Games Silver First Place Medal graded NGC MS 62
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Attica describes the 48mm medal as an “exceptional specimen of outstanding quality, rarity and historical interest,” and one of only 43 reportedly awarded. Sporting rainbow cabinet patina, this medal has an estimate of €40,000 (about $43,400).

The 1896 Summer Olympiad was the first in the modern era of Olympics. The first-place winner in each event was awarded a silver medal, with a bronze medal going to the second-place winner. It was not until the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis that the tradition of gold, silver and bronze medals for first, second and third place was begun.

1936 Berlin First-Place Medal

The gilt first-place medal from the famed 1936 Olympiad was designed by renowned Italian sculptor Giuseppe Cassioli, whose design was used for medals awarded during the Summer Olympic Games from 1928 through 1968. The obverse depicts the Greek goddess Victory seated within the Roman Colosseum, with the inscription XI OLYMPIADE BERLIN 1936. The reverse shows a triumphant athlete carried on the shoulders of his fellow competitors.

Germany 1936 Berlin Olympiad Gilt Silver First Prize Medal graded NGC MS 61
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The Germany 1936 Berlin Olympiad Gilt Silver First Prize Medal graded NGC MS 61 is described by Spink as an artifact “of the greatest rarity,” noting that much of the original gilding remains. With a diameter of 55mm, this medal has an estimate of €10,000 to €15,000 (about $10,800 to $16,300).

The 1936 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in Berlin, are considered the most controversial in history. The policies of the Nazi Party led many countries to consider a boycott of the games. The Olympic Committee stepped in to secure assurances that Jews and others would not be discriminated against. Following the 1936 Olympics, World War II prevented the games from being held again until 1948.

Olympic Intercalated Games Medals

The Attica auction also features a group of three medals — gilt, silver and bronze — awarded during the 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games in Athens. The event, which was intended to be the first of a series of Olympic competitions held exclusively in Athens in between the regular four-year Olympiad cycle, was the only Intercalated Games to ever be held. As a result, the medals are extremely rare.

Greece 1906 Intercalated Olympics Gilt Silver First Place Medal graded NGC AU 58
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Greece 1906 Intercalated Olympics Silver Second Place Medal graded NGC MS 61
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Greece 1906 Intercalated Olympics Bronze Third Place Medal graded NGC MS 64 BN
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The gilt medal, which Attica describes as of “extraordinary quality with strong details,” was graded NGC AU 58. The silver medal, described as being in “magnificent condition with old cabinet silver-grey patina and sharp details,” was graded NGC MS 61. The bronze medal, which is said to be “in unsurpassed quality with a rich milk chocolate patina and very sharp details,” was graded NGC MS 64 BN. Aside from the date, the medals mirror the design of the 1896 Athens medal. The three medals are being offered as a single lot with an estimate of €10,000 (about $10,800).

All estimates and starting prices are provided by the auction house. The $ symbol represents US Dollars.

Related Link:
NGC Certifies First Olympic Gold Medal for Basketball Ever Awarded

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