Rare winner's medal issued for wrestling at the London 1908 Olympics. Gold, 33.5 mm, 25 gm, designed by Bertram Mackennal, Birmingham; manufactured by Vaughton & Sons, England. The front, inscribed, "Olympic Games, London 1908," features a victorious athlete being crowned with a laurel wreath by two seated females; the reverse depicts St. George, the patron saint of England, slaying a dragon as a goddess looks on. The rim is engraved with the name and winner of the event, "Winner Middle Wrestling, (C AS C), S. V. Bacon.” This medal was awarded to 22-year-old British wrestler Stanley Bacon, who finished first in the men's freestyle middleweight bracket after ousting fellow countryman George de Relwyskow by decision in the final match. He also competed in the men's Greco-Roman middleweight competition, but was defeated in the first round by eventual silver medalist Mauritz Andersson of Sweden. Bacon rounded out his Olympic career by wrestling at the 1912 Games in Sweden and at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, ultimately losing in the second round on both occasions.
The medal is accompanied by its attractive original red leather presentation case, with the top engraved in gilt with the event, two vintage matte-finish 3.5 x 5.5 photos of Bacon, one of him as a muscular 16-year-old and the other of him in his military uniform, and a typed letter conveying congratulations from a “Mr. Buxton” on Bacon's “brilliant achievement in the Wrestling Competition at the Olympic Games,” dated July 29, 1908.
Solid gold medals were awarded at only four Games—1900, 1904, 1908, and 1912—making this an especially appealing early Olympic piece. Great Britain dominated the Games with a total of 146 medals, far eclipsing second and third place nations the United States (47) and Sweden (25); Great Britain's top finish in the Olympic medal table marks the only instance the country has done so in its history. Given that only 250 of these pure gold prizes were struck in 1908, this is a remarkable and exceptionally scarce winner's medal commemorating Great Britain's triumphant first outing as an Olympic host city.
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