We are set to offer this truly unique collection for auction in our autumn fine sale on the 23rd November 2022. The fantastic selection of memorabilia features Olympic medals and ephemera spanning many decades.
It was consigned to Anthemion by the family of Ernest James Henry (Billy) Holt, CMG, CBE (1883 – 1972), who had a close association with athletics for more than fifty years. Holt started as a sprinter with South London Harriers and turned to the administration side of the sport when he retired. Throughout the early twentieth century he was heavily involved in the officiation of Athletics, becoming treasurer of the Amateur Athletic Association in 1932, and subsequently honorary secretary of the Amateur Athletic Board and honorary secretary of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.
Holt went on to become involved in the structuring and organisation of several Olympic games, holding the position of Director of Organisation for the 1948 Olympic games in London, and adviser and technical director for the 1956 games in Melbourne. He also held other roles in the Los Angeles 1932, Berlin 1936 and Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games. In recognition of his services to the sport he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1947, C.B.E in 1953 and C.M.G. in 1957
Many of the items to be entered into the auction originate from the London and Melbourne Olympics that Holt directed.
One of the most striking items in the collection is a bearer’s torch from the 1956 Games in Melbourne, which was first used at the London Olympic Games in 1948, and is estimated to realise between £5,000 and £8,000 at auction.
The sale also features a car number plate for the Melbourne Olympics which is estimated at between £800 and £1200, as well as medals from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932 and the British Empire Games of 1930 and 1934. Also included is a medal for the Athens Summer Olympics in 1896 and a commemorative medallion for the 1st Mediterranean Games.
One of the most unique lots of the collection, and one that is expected to be particularly sought after, is an officials badge for the Tokyo 1940 Games, depicting Mount Fuji with Olympic rings and inscribed “XII Olympiad Tokyo 1940”. This Olympics, also known as “The Phantom Olympics”, famously never took place.
The 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympics, were to be the first games hosted by a non-Western country and the culmination of years of campaigning by Japanese officials. Along with the 1916 and 1944 Olympiads, the 1940 games are one of only three Olympic games to be cancelled. Technically, the city voluntarily relinquished its right to host the games, due to the conflicts and material needs relating to Japan’s war in China. But the decision left a fantasy in tatters for the nation.
Items from cancelled or otherwise changed events tend to hold a much higher than usual collectable and auction value. The officials badge from the Tokyo Olympics is estimated to realise between £1,000 and £1,500 in our November Auction.