Christie's has a fabulous Olympic Gold Medal in an upcoming sale. -Editor
BASKETBALL – An Olympic Gold Medal awarded for Basketball to George Louis Redlein (1885-1968), St. Louis, 1904.
True Olympic gold: a superb artifact of the original “Dream Team”. Just a dozen years after the rules of basketball were codified by James Naismith, basketball appeared on the world stage as a demonstration sport at St.
Louis in the third modern Olympiad. St. Louis in 1904 was the first American city to host an Olympics. The 1904 games were also the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals, and one of only three Olympics in which the
winners were systematically presented with solid gold medals. When the Olympics returned from an eight-year hiatus in 1920, the European economies were so decimated that the era of "true" Olympic gold ended.
Olympic basketball was not played again until 1936.
The men’s basketball competition was held on 11-12 July 1904 with six American teams in the running: the Buffalo Germans, West Side and Central YMCA from Chicago, “Turner’s Tigers” of San Francisco, the Missouri Athletic
Club, Central YMCA of St. Louis, and Xavier Athletic Club of New York. Each team had to play five games within these two days. The Buffalo Germans were a young team formed in 1895 at a YMCA under the auspices of Fred
Burkhard, who learned the game from Naismith himself. The Germans began by playing other junior teams but by 1898 were competing with the men. The first national basketball tournament was held during the Pan-American
Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 and the Germans took the trophy without a single loss—even though the team’s average age was still only 18.
George Redlein joined the Germans sometime after the Pan-American Exposition and before the Olympics, which took place the summer before his freshman year at Syracuse University (he also played for his college team).
Redlein was one of only six men on the Olympic team. The Germans swept all five of their Olympic games, with only the New York and Chicago men giving them any kind of fight. With this victory, on top of the 1901
Pan-American, the Buffalo Germans now styled themselves the World Champions of basketball and went pro. “The Germans became the most-feared team in the country, playing against the best pro and amateur teams in the world,
and winning with relative ease. The Germans claimed no particular style or strategy; they simply dominated in every aspect of the game” (Basketball Hall of Fame). The team lasted for 30 years with an overall record 792-86.
They won 111 games in a row between 1908 and 1911. The original Buffalo Germans, including Redlein, were inducted into the James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961, honored as “basketball’s first great
Gold medal, 14 karats (tested), with attached metal ring, the obverse cast in relief with bust of Hermes holding banner inscribed “PAX” within a large wreath, inscribed “Olympic World’s Championship / Universal Exposition
/ Commemorating the Louisiana Purchase 1803 / St. Louis U.S.A. 1904,” the reverse inscribed “BASKETBALL / George L. Redlein / L.F.” and impressed by the maker “Dieges & Clust / 95 St. John St. N.Y. / Solid Gold” (without
bar), 33mm diameter and 19.2 grams.
What do they mean by "tested"? Was the piece damaged by removing a piece for testing? The edge isn't shown, and that's likely where a test mark would be. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
BASKETBALL – An Olympic Gold Medal awarded for Basketball to George Louis Redlein (1885-1968), St.
Louis, 1904. (https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/books-manuscripts/basketball-an-olympic-gold-medal-awarded-6145960-details.aspx)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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