Olympic torches, including one from the 1948 games, the last time the event was held in London, will boost a memorabilia auction today that may raise at least 350,000 pounds ($543,000).
The 1948 torch, estimated at as much as 3,500 pounds, is among 215 lots being offered by Bonhams in London. The eyes of the world are centering on the U.K. capital, where the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics takes place on July 27.
“We’ve chosen to have it now because there’s a massive worldwide interest in the Olympics,” Lionel Willis, a specialist in the collectors’ department at Bonhams, said in an interview. It was a one-time event, he said.
Collectors are also being offered rare photographs of U.S. athlete Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and infuriated Nazis who believed in Aryan superiority.
Also on sale is a kit bag belonging to the British runner Harold Abrahams, winner of the 1924 100-meter sprint and the subject of the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire.”
A competitors’ handbook from the 1948 Olympics, dubbed the “austerity games,” highlights how much the event has changed. Participants are reminded to bring their own soap and towel.
The guide also reveals an early example of Olympic sponsorship. Male athletes were advised that they would receive two pairs of Y-Front briefs.
The Olympic Games Sale takes place at 2 p.m. at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London.