DAVENPORT, Wash., June 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- An extraordinary sports rarity will be auctioned on June 24 at a suburban Spokane auction house: the Olympic Gold Medal that was awarded to John H. "Tex" Gibbons, captain of the first U.S. Men's Basketball Team. Gibbons led the team to victory at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
The medal comes directly from Gibbons' family with a notarized Letter of Authenticity signed by Gibbons' son. It is also accompanied by an extensive archive of ephemera documenting the basketball team's ocean voyage to Germany, their participation in the Games, and the social events, side trips and other activities organized by the Olympic committee while they were in Europe.
Gibbons' gold medal is historically significant for several reasons, said Grant Zahajko, owner of GZ Auctions, the company conducting the auction.
"There was a great article in Sports Illustrated that stated the first American 'Dream Team' was actually the 1936 Olympic team. Except for one man, all of them were already professional basketball players," Zahajko said.
"Also, 1936 was the first year that basketball was included in the Olympics," Zahajko said. "Playing conditions at the Berlin Games were minimal. They played on a dirt court in a horse pasture. They couldn't even dribble; they had to pass. The final game, which was played in the driving rain and mud, ended with a score of USA 19, Canada 8."
Zahajko said that during his career he has appraised three Olympic Gold Medals from members of the 1936 Olympics U.S. basketball team. The first medal he evaluated was privately held and is not for sale. The second was very worn, a condition 1 out of 10, with a hole drilled into it. In spite of its compromised condition, that example sold for $67,000 in 2015. The Gibbons medal is in excellent condition and is accompanied by unique documentation, including Olympic athlete handbooks, travel mementos and a photo of Gibbons en route to Europe. The medal's pre-auction estimate is $100,000-$150,000.
"In the auction business, this medal is an example of what we call a crossover item, because it appeals to multiple types of collectors," said Zahajko. "This medal is obviously of great interest to those who collect Olympic material, but it would also be highly prized in any sports, numismatic or American historical collection."
The June 24 auction showcases many other pop-culture treasures, including a long-hidden trove of rare 1953-1962 Topps baseball cards in superior condition, 16 model sheets by Disney animator Ted Bonnicksen (1915-1971), an example of the first issue Mad published in magazine format (July 1955), a Project Mercury first day cover signed by several legendary astronauts, and many other autographed items.
View the full catalog and bid absentee or live online at LiveAuctioneers.com.
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