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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/30/2023

Alma Wilford Richards has one of the most unlikely Olympic stories. Born on a Utah farm in 1890, he developed his athleticism as a child by chasing jackrabbits in the fields. While playing basketball at Brigham Young University in 1912, he caught the eye of BYU track and field coach Eugene Roberts who saw potential in Richards’ unique jumping ability. After working with him for a short period, Roberts raised enough money to send his protégée to the 1912 U.S. Olympic trials. Richards won trials, made the U.S. Olympic team, and proceeded to take Gold in Men’s High Jump at the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm. In doing so, Richards became the first Utah native (and first Mormon) to win Olympic gold. He later earned a track scholarship at Cornell University where he became a world class decathlete. (He was USA’s top high jump and decathlon medal contender heading into the 1916 Olympics, but those Games were canceled due to World War I.) After graduating with honors from Cornell, Richards attended grad school at Stanford and got his law degree at USC before becoming a science teacher at Venice High School in Los Angeles for 32 years. He is enshrined in the Utah Sports, Helms, and USA Track & Field Hall of Fames.

Presented here is Alma Richards’ 1912 Stockholm Olympics 1st place gold medal with his name “A.W. Richards” etched in. Originally sourced from the Richards family, it ended up in an estate sale where it was acquired by our consignor's mother-in-law sometime the 1980s or '90s. Winner medals for the 1912 Games are among the smallest and most exquisitely crafted in the history of the modern Olympiad, and this marked the last year any gold medals were actually made completely of solid 22-karat [91.67% pure] gold. Ever since these Games, 1st place gold medals have been made of 92.5% gilt silver with 24-karat gold plating. Just 90 solid gold medals at the 1912 Games (including the two won by the legendary Jim Thorpe) were minted by Sweden’s C.C. Sporrong & Co., and these were given out only to individual event champions. Gold medal-winning team members received gold-plated gilt silver medals instead. 200 of these along with 285 gilt silver medals for 2nd place finishers and 270 bronze medals for 3rd place finishers were struck, making this solid gold example exceptionally rare.

The obverse, designed by Bertram Mackennal, shows two women crowning a victorious athlete with a laurel wreath. The reverse, designed by Erik Lindberg, shows a herald opening the Games and a statue of Pehr Henrik Ling (Swedish gymnastics pioneer) surrounded by “1912 OLYMPISKA SPELEN STOCKHOLM.” This pure gold medal measures 33 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick, weighing 28 grams. A loop has been added at the top (by the athlete post-Olympics) allowing it to be worn around the neck with a chain. The wonderfully preserved gold medal comes in EF condition with little wear to its reliefs and high points, delivering outstanding eye appeal. This is just the second 1912 Stockholm Olympics gold winner’s medal we have ever listed at auction. An incredible piece of early Olympic history awarded to one of the more intriguing Olympic champions from the pre-war era.

It should be noted how rare it is for an athlete's name to be engraved on his/her 1912 winner's medal. We consulted with an Olympic expert who advised this was likely done at the request of the athlete after the conclusion of the Games. In addition, we had a highly reputable local Swiss jeweler test the metal composition and confirm it is indeed 22 karats.

1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics 1st Place Winners Gold Medal Awarded to U.S. Mens High Jumper Alma Richards (Name Engraved) - Sourced from Family Estate Sale
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $5,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $53,759
Number Bids:20
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