An exceptionally rare Helsinki 1952 Summer Olympic Games silver bearer’s torch is expected to make up to £400,000 ($610,000/€537,000) at a sports memorabilia auction in London this month.
The Aukusti Tuhka-designed torch is one of only 15 made and comes complete with its original burner.
The bowl is hallmarked silver and features the Olympic Rings and laurel wreath, inscribed XV OLYMPIA HELSINKI 1952, and it has a birch wood handle.
A similar silver torch, which did not have its original burner, sold for more than €340,000 (£253,000/$386,000) at an auction in Paris in 2011.
A total of 22 torches were made for Helsinki 1952 - 15 with silver bowls and 7 in plate with a simpler design - and they are considered the singularly rarest bearers' torch in Olympic history, particularly as five of the silver models were lost during the relay.
Of the remaining 10 silver torches, three were donated to the Olympic committees of Greece, Denmark and Sweden, who had hosted the relay.
Scandinavian Airlines System, which had flown the Olympic flame from Greece to Denmark, also received a silver torch, as did four museums.
One more copy of the torch was commissioned in October 1952, with this and the other remaining torches given to three Finnish sports organisations - The Finnish Gymnastic and Sports Federation, the Workers’ Sport Federation and the Swedish-Language Sport Federation.
The Graham Budd auction, which will take place at Sotheby's on May 18, includes a number of Olympic medals and other memorabilia.
Among them is a gold medal from the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, which is estimated to fetch up to £35,000 ($53,000/€47,000).
Although the winner of the medal is not known, it was acquired from an old collection in Finland and as such is most likely to have been awarded to a Finnish athlete and in speed skating as this was the only sport in which the nation topped the podium at those Games.
“Clas Thunberg was the outstanding speed skater of the Games, winning gold in the 1500 metres, 5,000m and the all-around competition,” the auction catalogue reads.
“The Finn Julius Skutnabb won gold in the 10,000m.”
The Amsterdam 1928 Olympic gold medal awarded to Swedish heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler Rudolf Svensson is also for sale and could make up to £15,000 ($23,000/€20,000), while a skating gold medal awarded to an unknown athlete at the Squaw Valley 1960 Winter Games is down to fetch for up to £35,000 ($53,000/€47,000).
The Stockholm 1912 Olympic gold medal awarded to British swimming team member Annie Speirs for the 100 metres freestyle relay is also for up for auction and expected to make up to £12,000 ($18,000/€16,000).
The gold was won in a world record time of five minutes and 52.8 seconds at the first Olympic Games in which women could compete in swimming.
Other items of note at the auction include the stopwatch used by Iffley Road timekeeper W J Burfitt to record Sir Roger Bannister’s running of the first sub-four minute mile on May 6, 1954, which is estimated to make up to £8,000 ($12,000/€11,000), while a London 1908 Olympics silver medal in its original black leather case, which was awarded to the Liverpool Police representing Great Britain in the tug of war is estimated to fetch up to £5,500 ($8,300/€7,300).
More details can be found here.
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