Incredible Olympic Collectibles Certified by the CCG Companies

Posted on 7/13/2021

The rarities include first-place Olympic medals and highly desirable keepsakes inspired by the Games.

This month, the Summer Olympics are set to kick off in Tokyo, Japan, overcoming a one-year delay due to the pandemic. The influence of the Olympic Games reaches deep into popular culture. In fact, the once-every-four-years event is so highly anticipated that collectibles associated with the international sports competition have built-in demand.

The affiliates of the Certified Collectibles Group® (CCG®) have certified more than 65 million collectibles, including iconic medals and important artifacts directly associated with the Games as well as other valuable keepsakes inspired by them. Here are some of the incredible Olympic collectibles authenticated, graded and preserved by the CCG companies.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®)

An original Olympic medal

The first modern Olympics were held in 1896 in Greece. In those days, Olympic athletes who won first place were given a silver medal. NGC certified this example, which shows Zeus and the goddess Victory on the obverse, and the ruins of the Acropolis on the reverse.

Greece 1896-Dated Silver Medal from the First Modern Olympics graded NGC UNC Details
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This medal realized €40,000 (about $48,400) at an April 2021 sale presented by A. Karamitsos, an auction house specializing in Greek rarities. To learn more about this medal, click here.

A triumph in a dark time

Forty years later, as the darkness of totalitarianism settled over Europe, the 1936 Summer Games offered hope of international cooperation. Those Games were the first to feature basketball, and the Americans defeated the Canadians on a rain-soaked outdoor court to win the sport's first Olympic gold medal.

The 1936 Olympic gold medal for basketball encapsulated in the NGC Oversize Holder.
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James Naismith, the founder of basketball, flew to Germany to personally present this medal to US team captain William “Bill” Wheatley. NGC authenticated it and included this important attribution on the certification label. To learn more about this medal, click here.

Historic commemoratives

Not everyone can win an Olympic medal, of course, but there are plenty of other ways to commemorate the games in a numismatic fashion. Nations issue coinage to celebrate their athletes or the honor of hosting the Games.

There is no shortage of opportunities in Olympic coins: The NGC Registry has 664 slots (and counting!) in a competitive set called Summer Olympic Games, Host Country Coinage, 1952-Date, Complete. To learn more about and explore the top-ranked competitor for this NGC Registry set, click here.

Olympic coins attract the attention of top-level collectors. For instance, renowned numismatic Eric P. Newman's collection includes coins issued by the Soviet Union before the 1980 Games. The Hercules Collection of Chinese Modern Coins reflects China's Olympic aspirations, from those issued in 1980 to others issued more recently, including one in 2001 celebrating China's winning bid for the 2008 Games.

Olympic coins from the Soviet Union, United States and China. Click images to enlarge.

The US has issued dozens of Olympic coins in its modern commemorative era, including ones for the Summer Games in 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1996 (Atlanta) and the Winter Games in 2002 (Salt Lake City). To explore these coins in NGC Coin Explorer, click here.

An ancient tradition

The first Olympic Games are believed to have been held in the Greek city of Olympia in 776 B.C., a century or more before the dawn of coinage. The tradition lasted over a thousand years and left its impact on ancient coins. For instance, this Messana silver tetradrachm from circa 425-413 B.C. certified by NGC Ancients celebrates the triumph by a Greek Sicilian colony in the Olympic mule biga (chariot) race. To learn more about ancient coins and the Olympics, click here.

Sicily, Messana circa 425-413 B.C. Silver Tetradrachm graded NGC Ancients Ch AU, with 5/5 Strike and 4/5 Surface with Fine Style, and pedigreed to the Paramount Collection.
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Collectibles Authentication Guaranty® (CAG®)

The ultimate gold medal?

From ancient despots to modern trailblazers, the spirit of the Olympics is something that appeals to everyone. So it's not surprising that Olympic coins were included in The Armstrong Family Collection™, a group of thousands of items saved by the family of astronaut Neil Armstrong.

LEFT: Mexico City Olympics 1968Mo Mexico Silver 25 Pesos graded NGC MS 65 and certified by CAG as part of the Armstrong Family Collection. RIGHT: Apollo 11 Gold Robbins Medal graded NGC MS 67 and certified by CAG as part of the Armstrong Family Collection.
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CAG certified the provenance of this stunning group of collectibles, including this silver commemorative celebrating the 1968 Mexico Olympics, in addition to what might be considered the ultimate gold medal for an achievement the following year. Armstrong took this Apollo 11 Robbins Medal with him on his historic moon mission. To learn more about this medal, click here.

Numismatic Conservation Services™ (NCS®)

Restoring Olympic glory

Sometimes, a coin will develop heavy residue or another impairment. Skilled conservation work by NCS can restore a coin's inner beauty. Here are a couple of examples of Olympic coins that soared after NCS conservation.

South Korea 1988 10,000 Won before conservation (left) and after conservation. To see the other side, click here.
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US 1988-S Proof Olympic Commemorative Silver Dollar before conservation (left) and after conservation. To see the other side, click here.
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Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®)

Notes that go the distance

Coins aren't the only form of currency to celebrate the Olympics. Commemorative banknotes like this one certified by PMG celebrate previous Summer Games, including the one China held in 2008. The front of the note shows Beijing's landmark National Stadium (sometimes called the "Bird's Nest"), while the back of the note shows a "discobolus," an ancient statue of a discus thrower. Other Olympic-related notes include the one issued by Fiji to celebrate its first Olympic Gold Medal winners. To learn more about sports and banknotes, click here.

China 2008 Beijing Olympuic Games 10 Yuan graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Unc EPQ.
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Authenticated Stamp Guaranty® (ASG®)

A stamp within a stamp

Stamps, too, have been issued to commemorate the Olympics. This China 2008 6 Yuan Olympic Expo Beijing Souvenir Sheet is certified by ASG. The circular stamp is outlined by perforation and contains an image of the first Olympic stamp, a Greek one from 1896.

China 2008 6 Yuan Olympic Expo Beijing 2008 Souvenir Sheet, graded ASG Superb 99 Mint OG
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Certified Sports Guaranty® (CSG™)

Cards of Olympic heroes

While other Olympic-related collectibles take a broader view, sports cards often pay tribute to individual athletes. For instance, US gymnast Simone Biles, who won four Olympic gold medals in 2016, will be closely watched this year in her return to one of the most high-profile sports of the Summer Olympics, women’s gymnastics.

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In addition to Olympic cards like this, CSG also certifies many other types of cards, including this 2019-20 Panini Hoops Premium Stock High Voltage one featuring Kevin Durant. Durant is competing for the US Olympic men's basketball team, whose legacy includes winning 15 of the 19 gold medals dating back to 1936. To learn more about which cards CSG grades, click here.

By the way, if you're curious why Olympic gold winners bite their medals, NGC Research Director David W. Lange explains that it has its roots in counterfeit detection. Gold is a softer metal and more easily shows wear, though today the biting is entirely ceremonial. To read a CNN article about the practice, click here.

Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®)

The best around

The prospect of being the best anywhere sparks the imagination. This Action Comics #220 features a storyline of Superman competing in "The Inter-Planetary Olympics." It has a cover date of September 1956, two months before the Summer Games held in Australia that year. Four years earlier, Bugs Bunny competed in the "Rabbit Olympics."

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Both of these books have achieved their own glory: Each is unsurpassed in the CGC Census. To explore the rarity and grades of millions of comic books that are certified by CGC, click here.

CGC also has a division that certifies trading cards. This Japanese Pokémon (2009) Victory Medal card that graded a CGC Perfect 10 feels like the perfect card for the upcoming Olympics. You can explore more great cards like this at Instagram.com/CGCcards.

To learn more about the CCG affiliates, visit CollectiblesGroup.com.

 


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