Today: Last Update:

  • Olympic Collectibles - Volcano Dims Sales at Cologne Fair; Spring Auctions


    Retired German IOC member Walter Troeger at the collector's fair in Cologne. (ATR/H.P. Kreuzer)
    (ATR) Dealers report slow sales at the 15th World Olympic Collector's Fair this weekend as the volcanic ash cloud prevented about a third of the table holders and other participants from traveling to Cologne, Germany.

    "Attendance is definitely down," Olympic memorabilia dealer Jonathan Becker of the U.S. tells Around the Rings. He added that Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC honorary president who was expected to officially open the show, could not make it because of flight conditions.

    Also unable to travel were IOC members of IOC Collectors Commission Gerhard Heiberg of Norway and C.K. Wu from Chinese Taipei.

    David Maiden, the IOC philatelic coordinator, represented the IOC at the show, which was held at the German Sports & Olympic Museum near the Rhine.

    "The organizers have done a wonderful job," Becker says, "and the facility is very nice." He said the opening reception/dinner was attended by 150-200 people.

    Auctions This Spring

    Ulf Strom of Sweden and Ingrid O'Neil of the U.S. are conducting spring mail bid auctions.

    Strom will send a digital version of his catalog to e-mail requests:

    Attendance was down after volcanic ash cloud prevented about a third of the table holders and other participants from traveling to Cologne, Germany. (ATR/H.P. Kreuzer)
    O'Neil's auction is online at

    Strom's auction, which ends April 23, features Berlin 1936 material never before seen in previous sales, including an unrecorded jury of appeals badge for boxing (estimate of $10,000) and an unrecorded boxing badge with a jury bar (estimate of $3,500).

    Strom also has a 1924 Sevres porcelain vase presented to gold medal winners that he calls a "magnificent, beautiful and very rare award" with an estimate of $15,000.

    O'Neil's auction, which closes May 8, starts with what she calls "a big bang," a 1936 Berlin Sterling Silver Presentation Torch for Carl Diem, General Secretary of the Organizing Committee and Founder of the Olympic Torch Relay.

    The torch, handmade by the well known Berlin goldsmith H.J. Wilm rests on a base which is engraved "Dem Generalsekretar des Organisationskomitees fur die XI. Olympiade in Berlin 1936 Dr. Carl Diem von seinen alten Mitarbeitern in Dankbarkeit gewidmet.

    (Translation: to the General Secretary of the Organizing Committee for the XIth Olympic Games in Berlin, 1936, Dr. Carl Diem. Dedicated with gratitude by his former colleagues.)

    Below are 16 engraved signatures of members of the Organizing Committee. Diem died in 1962. His wife Liselott Diem subsequently presented the torch to a member of the family which now owns it.

    Looking for a less-pricey torch? An ordinary steel torch from the
    The torch presented to Carl Diem as pictured in the Ingrid O’Neil auction. (I.Oneil)
    inaugural relay has an estimate of $6,000. Another torch rarity is the 1956 Cortina edition for $29,500. Torch prices have climbed recently, with London and Rome torches each carrying estimates of $7,750.

    O'Neil's auction also features a rare Athletic Federation of Japan Badge from the cancelled 1940 Olympics in Tokyo. It has a lavender rosette and is in its original wooden box.

    Quirky items include a wooden shoe pipe form 1928 with its original box ($225) and the Olympic Oath in seven languages, which calls itself "the smallest book in the world." It is 6 x 6 mm and in a box that is 19 x 19 mm ($100).

    A 2004 Athens gold medal for baseball in its case has an estimate of $11,000, compared to the one for women's javelin that is currently on eBay for $25,000.

    Among recent material, a Vancouver participation medal, which sells for $300- $400 on eBay, has an estimate of $450 and opening and closing ceremony programs are priced at $150 apiece.

    To subscribe to Around the Rings Click Here

    With reporting from Karen Rosen.

    For general comments or questions, click here

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.