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Olympic coins: Mintage varies from five to several million

Olympic coins account for approximately 40 lots in the coming Felzmann auction in July, including specimens with very low mintages.

Gold, silver and bronze – everyone knows what these precious metals stand for at the Olympic Games. However, these metals are not only used for the medals awarded for first, second and third place in Olympic sporting events. Since 1952, coins have also been minted to commemorate the Olympic Games. This first occurred during the Games of the XV Olympiad in Helsinki, where they were issued by host country Finland. Predominantly minted from 625 silver and initially seen as a good investment, the coins featured sporting motifs and appealed above all to coin collectors. Peter Feuser, Head of Numismatics at Auktionshaus Felzmann, explains: “Today, there are so many Olympic coins on the market that it is difficult to keep track of them all. Many countries regularly produce coins for the Olympic Games as they are inexpensive to mint and because people like collecting them.” Countries such as the Cook Islands or Fiji, for example, finance their Olympic activities largely through the sale of these special coins. Mintages vary greatly, with some coins being produced just five times, while others are produced a million times over. Peter Feuser: “Every year, Germany issues nine or ten commemorative coins – in 2019, for example, the theme was ‘In the Air’. This is very little compared to most countries.” The motifs used for Olympic coins are frequently based on those found on stamps that are also issued to commemorate the Olympic Games.

In its Summer Auction from 2 to 6 July 2019, Auktionshaus Felzmann will also be featuring a wide range of Olympic coins. These include above all specimens from the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

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This coin is meant to symbolise the friendship between China and Germany.

Among other things, this includes a friendship panda (Lot 1,326), which was minted 1,500 times to coincide with the Munich International Coin Fair and to symbolise the friendship between China and Germany. What is special about this is that it contains an ounce of fine gold. The obverse reflects this friendship, depicting both the Chinese wall and the famous Frauenkirche church in Germany. Peter Feuser: “This is number 1,215 in its original wooden case. In this exceptional condition, it is an extremely rare and attractive specimen for collectors.”

Only 50 specimens of the “50 livres” were minted in Egypt to mark the Winter Olympics. This coin, which shows a male ski jumper and a female ice skater wearing a woollen hat, is very rare and the bidding in the summer auction will start at €500 (Lot 1,274).

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This coin is a non-standard mintage that was not issued by the state.

However, not all of the coins were official issues. Some resourceful companies also had their own special coins minted for the Olympic Games, such as can be found under Lot 1396 – a coin from Panama that was produced for the Winter Olympics in Calgary. As Peter Feuser explains: “This is an irregular mintage”. The motif shows a figure skater, while the reverse side of the coin shows the typical motif of the VN Balboa artificial currency. The coin is found in the original blister packaging, accompanied by a one-sided trial strike on a gold-plated fine silver round plate. The reverse is blank, with only the hallmark “999 silver” visible. Peter Feuser: “To our knowledge, such a coin has never before been available on the auction market”.

Why not bid for a piece of sports history in coin form? All Olympic lots can be found in our online catalogue.

Further specimens can be found in the picture gallery: