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Bejing Olympics - Medal Collector Michael Phelps?
August 13, 2008

At this year's ANA convention in Baltimore there was a very educational and nicely done display on the participation medals awarded to every Olympian. These are the medal one gets for "getting there."

However, what we all come to know as Olympic medals are those presented on the podium, in gold silver and bronze and make the "medal count" charts.

Every Olympics has a headliner, some from the summer games of the past that come to mind have been Jim Thorpe, Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner; and this year we have Michael Phelps. In this photo by Martin Bureau -AFP - Getty Images, of one of the medal presentation ceremonies, perhaps Michael is collecting medals but not yet a medal collector based on the way he is holding his prized item!

The award medals make use of a red ribbon with a cloud pattern woven into it and in contrasting white color the logo-type for the games. The medals are 70mm in diameter and 6mm thick. The International Olympic Committee design side depicts the winged goddess of victory - Nike and the Panathinaikos arena. The Bejing side has the Olympic logotype within a center of jade which is inscribed with a dragon pattern.

The medals are gold plated silver (minimum of six grams of gold in the plating), silver and bronze. Jade is being used in the medals for the first time. In addition to the medals, which are presented with a wooden lacquer box the winner also receives a small group of flowers and a diploma made of traditional Chinese silk and rice paper.

The design competition was announced in January 2006, and over 265 entries were sent in. After several elimination rounds, the final proposal was approved in February 2007. However, I have not been able to yet find credit for the individual designer or manufacturer.


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About the Author
George Cuhaj has been with the Krause Publications numismatic team since 1994. He is editor of the various editions of the Standard Catalog of World Coins and the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. Prior to joining KP, Cuhaj was employed by the American Numismatic Society and Stack's Rare Coins, both of New York City. He is a Fellow in both the Royal Numismatic Society and the American Numismatic Society. He also is a life member and past board member of the International Bank Note Society. Cuhaj was elected an Allied Professional Member of the National Sculpture Society and has had his medallic work exhibited internationally.

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