Winners’ medals for the 1896 revived event held in Athens were not struck in gold. Second place medals were bronze and no third place awards given. Gold medals appeared for the 1904 St Louis Games.
Designed by Jules Chaplain and minted in Paris, the signed 1896 medals on the obverse feature a portrait of Zeus with the globe in his right hand, on which stands the goddess of victory, Nike, holding an olive branch, and to the left in Greek the script reads Olympia.
The reverse depicts a representation of the Acropolis and Parthenon, the inscription translated from the Greek reading International Olympic Games, Athens, 1896.
Forty-three original silver medals were presented. The International Olympic Committee has now reclassified the 1896 medals to modern ‘gold, silver, bronze’ awards.
The original recipient of the example that came up at Graham Budd’s auction on March 7-8 is unknown. With a provenance to the property of a private collector, it sold at £36,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium) to a private buyer online against a guide of £30,000-50,000.