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The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 50, December 8, 2013, Article 17

JESSE OWENS' 1936 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL

My ears perked up this week when I heard a report on the car radio about the upcoming sale of one of Jesse Owens' 1936 Olympic gold medals. Wow! They don't come more important than this; this sale is the sports equivalent of the Crick Nobel Prize medal. The Owens medal sold tonight for $1,466,574 (including Buyer's Premium). Here's an excerpt from CNN's coverage. -Editor

Jesse Owens

It is one of the most important medals in Olympics history. In 1936 Jesse Owens won it and three others at the Berlin Games, spoiling Adolf Hitler's planned showcase of Aryan superiority.

Imagine the shock to Nazi Party elites when a black American, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of slaves, stared down fascist propaganda, bested his rivals and took home four gold medals.

Hitler was furious, but tens of thousands of ordinary Germans cheered him on.

Owens won the 100- and 200-meter sprints, the long jump and ran the opening leg for the winning 4x100-meter U.S. relay team.

Sports Illustrated chose Owens' feat as the greatest Olympic moment of all time. So auctioneers predict the medal will sell for more than $1 million.

"It leaves one nearly speechless to behold this medal. It survives as one of the world's most poignant symbols of triumph," the vice president of SCP Auctions, Dan Imler, said in a written statement.

The medal was given by Owens to friend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson a few years after the Olympics, and the late entertainer's widow Elaine Plaines-Robinson is selling the medal, the auction house said.

To read the complete article, see: Bidding for Jesse Owens' 1936 gold medal tops $200,000 (www.cnn.com/2013/12/02/us/jesse-owens-gold-medal-auction/)

An article by Jeff Starck in the December 9, 2013 issue of Coin World provides more information. -Editor

Jesse Owens 1936 gold medal

The medal is the only original Owens gold medal in existence, but cannot be traced to the specific event for which it was awarded. Owens earned four gold medals at the Games, for winning the 100-meter race, the 200-meter race and the long jump, and as part of the 4x100-meter relay team.

The medal in the auction has reportedly been in the estate of entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s late widow Elaine Plaines-Robinson. Owens gave Bill Robinson the medal because he helped Owens find work in entertainment following Owens’ Olympic exploits, as documented in the biography Mr. Bojangles by N.R. Mitgang.

The other three medals were lost, and Owens was issued a replacement set that was featured as part of the 1976 Freedom Train exhibit. The replacements are now on exhibit at Owens’ alma mater, Ohio State University, as part of their Jesse Owens exhibit.

Ingrid O’Neil, of the Corona Del Mar, Calif., sports and Olympic memorabilia firm bearing her name, said 1936 Berlin gold medals come up at auction occasionally, but cannot usually be traced to a recipient because, prior to 1960, recipients’ names were not engraved on the edge as they have been since that time.

O’Neil said she has been offered 1936 gold medals purported to be among the missing Owens medals on multiple occasions, but those pieces lacked documentation.

To read the complete article, see: Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic gold highlights online auction (www.coinworld.com/articles/jesse-owens-1936-olympic-gold-highlights-onli)

To view the auction lot description, see: Lot #365: JESSE OWENS 1936 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL FROM BERLIN GERMANY FROM THE ESTATE OF BILL "BOJANGLES" ROBINSON (catalog.scpauctions.com/JESSE-OWENS-1936-OLYMPIC-GOLD-MEDAL-FROM-BERLIN-GE-LOT26318.aspx)

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: FRANCIS CRICK'S 1962 GOLD NOBEL PRIZE MEDAL TO BE AUCTIONED (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v16n09a34.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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