News-Antique.com - Aug 10,2012 - They are iconic pieces of Olympic memorabilia, providing an immediate connection with the most memorable sporting moments in history.
Many were produced in such small numbers that they are near impossible to obtain.
It’s why Olympic torches are in such great demand, and why prices remain consistently high.
And in this Olympic year consigners have been attempting to surf the wave of Olympic euphoria by selling their prized possessions, no more so than a sizable minority of the 8,000 torchbearers who carried the flame around the UK this summer.
Here’s Paul Fraser Collectibles’ look at the top 5 Olympic torches ever auctioned.
Sorry to say that Dr Joseph Goebbels was the man behind the first torch relay, introducing it ahead of the Games best remembered for Jesse Owens’ remarkable performance.
Each of the torchbearers was provided with a stainless steel torch holder, inscribed with the route map from Olympia to Berlin, and a certificate to show their participation.
One such torch auctioned for $18,000 in March 2008 – something of an anomaly. A more usual price for one of the 3,840 produced is £2,000.
The auction record for a torch from the 1948 Games remains £6,463, achieved at Christie's in 2000. Values this year at auction have been in the £4,000 range.
1,688 torches were produced for the 1948 Games, the prices reflective of the tussle between the comparative ubiquity of the torches and the incredible passion of nostalgic British sporting collectors.
The holy grail of Olympic torches. Just 22 were made – one of which sold for £239,000 at Christie's in 2011, a record for an Olympic torch.
Taking its inspiration from the London 1948 design, just 400 were produced. An example sold for £4,600 at Christie’s in June 1998. The torches travelled to both Australia and Sweden, where the equestrian events took place, due to Australian quarantine laws.
Despite 8,000 having been produced, those torches that have appeared for auction (discounting one which received a hoax bid of £153,000) have achieved up to £7,500. Branded sacrilegious by some, the sales are further evidence, if it were needed, of Britain’s obsession with these Olympics.