Clyde Purnell Webpv 21.06.24

Clyde Purnell Olympic gold medal, sold for £18,000 at Graham Budd Auctions. 

Image copyright: Graham Budd Auctions.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The 1908 Olympic Games in London included duels with wax bullets, tug of war and the world’s oldest Olympic champion.

It was perhaps most notable for the moment Italian runner Dorando Pietri, tired and dehydrated, fell five times in the final moments of the marathon. He was helped up the last four times by the umpires to finish first, only to be disqualified the next day following a complaint from the American team in second place that the help was unfair.

The White City Stadium, built especially for the Games, also hosted the football tournament which Great Britain won after beating Denmark 2-0 in the final.

One of the victorious players was Clyde Purnell (1877-1934), who ended the tournament as Great Britain’s second highest goalscorer and fourth highest overall – thanks to his four goals in a 12-1 thrashing of Sweden.

Purnell’s gold medal from the tournament, inscribed with ‘Olympic Games London 1908’ and St George slaying the dragon on the reverse, found its way to Graham Budd Auctions in Wellingborough on June 18 and sold for £18,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium) following a £9000-12,000 estimate.

Clyde Purnell Medal Reverse Webpv 21.06.24

Reverse of Clyde Purnell Olympic medal showing St George. 

Image copyright: Graham Budd Auctions. 

The appearance of a Great Britain football team at the Olympics was one of only 10 in history. It was also one of three gold medal victories: the first being awarded to Upton Park FC in 1900 – a team acting as Great Britain representatives – and in 1912.

The sale was part of the Sporting & Olympic Games Memorabilia Auction which also included a bronze, silver and gold medal set from the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games which hammered down for £7000 and a participant’s medal from the first Winter Olympics in 1924 which fetched £4800.