Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games torch – £5500 at Anthemion.

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Including more than 200 individual items with medals and ephemera spanning many decade, it was consigned by the family of Ernest James Henry (Billy) Holt (1883-1972), who had a close association with athletics for more than 50 years.

He started as a sprinter with South London Harriers and turned to the administration side of the sport when he retired.

Throughout the early 20th 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 Games in London and adviser and technical director for the 1956 event in Melbourne. He also held other roles in the Los Angeles 1932, Berlin 1936 and Helsinki 1952 Games. In recognition of his services to sport he was awarded the OBE in 1947, CBE in 1953 and CMG in 1957.

Many of the items to be entered into the November 23 auction originated from the London and Melbourne Olympics that Holt directed.

Melbourne torch

One of the most notable items was a bearer’s torch from the 1956 Games based on Ralph Laver’s aluminium alloy pierced bowl with legend design, first used at London, 1948. Estimated at £5000-8000, it made £5500.

The earlier Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games torch is very rare – one sold for £420,000 at Graham Budd’s auction in May 2015.


Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games Organising Committee member’s pin badge – £2500 at Anthemion.

Guided at £1000-1500, a 1956 Organising Committee member’s pin badge made £2500 at Anthemion.

In gilt metal, with white enamel border and enamelled Olympic Rings, torch and map of Australia, and a ribbon of the Olympic colours mounted with a gilt metal and white enamel bar showing TECHNICAL DIRECTOR above a green ribbon stamped O.C, it is also marked No. 229 K.C. Luke Melbourne to the reverse (Luke is the name of the mint).

The ‘Phantom’ Games


1940 Tokyo Summer Olympics official’s badge – £1300 at Anthemion.

One of the most unusual lots was an official’s badge for the Tokyo 1940 Games. This Olympics, also known as The Phantom Olympics, famously never took place – giving significant rarity value to memorabilia.

Silvered and enamel on a mauve rosette depicting Mount Fuji with Olympic Rings over an inscribed XII Olympiad Tokyo 1940, it came in the original wooden box stamped to the top Amateur Athletic Federation of Japan with a paper label to the reverse.

It took a within-estimate £1300.

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 event is 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.

Other official badges performed well. A 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games honorary invitation badge sold for a triple-top-estimate £900 and an Olympic Committee members lapel badge for the 1948 London Games realised £450, three times the low guide.