Stamp Collecting

Olympic Collectables

Collecting can be very rewarding.  It has the thrill of the chase, offers genuine investment opportunities and can open personal windows into different times and places.  So with the Olympics currently underway I thought that perhaps this might be an opportunity to lure a few readers into the sometimes expensive, always addictive but also satisfying world of collecting.  If you are a fan of the Olympics and are looking for a new hobby then here are a few ideas…

Postage Stamps – Ever since the first of the modern games in 1896 there have been Olympic themed postage stamps issued by many countries.  You can see the 1896 set on this website.  Many stamp collectors focus their collections primarily on the Olympics and you’ll find plenty of sets for sale on Ebay or from your local stamp dealer.

Pins/Badges – These have become highly collectable and in recent decades a huge variety are made available.  Here is a good guide to get you started.

Tickets – I don’t have an Olympic themed collection of my own (I have far too many collections already!) but if I did then this would be my pick as I’m a sucker for ephemera.  You could collect tickets for a specific sport or focus on a particular Olympiad or even perhaps try to find tickets for every day/event that an athlete from your country won gold.  Damn it.. I think I might have just convinced myself to start a new collection.

Torches – Yes it is time to up the ante.  Why muck around with stamps, badges and tickets when you could have your very own collection of original Olympic torches!  Impossible I hear you say, but not at all!  While they are certainly very expensive they do come up for sale regularly at antique/collectables auctions and sites that specialize in selling sports memorabilia.  Also you can sometimes find them on Ebay, in fact right now there are a number up for sale including this beauty.  Also check up this good write-up on torch collecting here.

While on the topic of Olympic torches, it might surprise you to find out that we have the Nazis to thank for introducing them.  Joseph Goebbels came up with the idea for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Medals – While most Gold, Silver and Bronze medals stay in the hands of the athletes themselves, their family or museums and institutions they do sometimes come up on the market (just like even the highest of military decorations).  They might be out of the price range for most people but there is another kind of medal that is highly collectible and available at much more reasonable prices.  Those are the participation medals which are awarded to all competitors and often to officials and judges.  Here is a great guide to collecting Olympic participation medals.

A warning though, don’t all rush off to start your new collection right away as the best time to buy any kind of Olympic collectable is between Olympiads.  Right now the prices are all premium and you’d do better to wait a year or two.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t have an Olympic themed collection of my own but a few years ago I was fortunate enough to view a particularly inspiring bit of Olympic related ephemera – the original draft script for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire.  The script is held in the British Film Institute and I’ve been secretly chuffed to see the legendary film and its famous soundtrack play a role in the branding of the 2012 London Olympics, including in the Opening Ceremony.

The original film has also been remastered and re-released.  Here is the new trailer.

© Lemuel Lyes

2 replies »

  1. I remember that movie when it came out. I was at varsity and involved in the annual capping revue, which parodied the Vangelis slow-mo running sequence – blatantly, unsubtly and stupidly, the way these reviews always do. The sequence involved a mob of runners mowing down an innocent pedestrian who, of course, couldn’t get away because she too had to move in slow-mo. The pedestrian, as I recall, was played by Stella Duffy who went on to become a particularly fine novellist in the UK. I was just part of the talentless mob…Ah, the things one did at varsity… 🙂

    • I do hope that someone in the audience captured video evidence of your capping show performance!

      The Vangelis soundtrack must be one of the most well recognised and most parodied sequences in cinema history. Its role in the Opening Ceremony with Rowan Atkinson was certainly a highlight for me, a unique celebration of ‘British-ness’.

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