1908  London Summer Olympics

1908 Summer Olympics - Olympic Memorabilia

1906 Summer Olympics - Olympic Memorabilia

Winner Medals

Olympic games winner medal 1908 Olympic games winner medal 1908
Images copyright © by Ulf Ström, Stockholm, Sweden
1st Place: Gold Medal Material: Gold
    Weight 25 gr
2nd Place: Silver Medal Material: Silver
    Weight 19 gr
3rd Place: Bronze Medal Material: Bronze
    Weight 19 gr
Diameter: 33 mm Design by: Bertram Mac-Kennal
    Mint: Vaughton & Sons
Thickness: 2 mm Ribbon: None
Obverse: Two young women are depicted crowning an athlete with alaurel wreath.
Reverse: St. George, patron Saint of England, slaying the dragon.
Numbers of Medals: Gold:     250                    Silver:   260                     Bronze:   260

Two sets of Medals were providet, the first (in gold, silver, and bronze) for winners of first, second, and third prizes in Olympic events; the second (in silver-gilt, silver, bronze, and metal) were called Commemoration Medals, one being given to each competitor with his competitor`s badge, but the three higher classes being reserved for officials and other who did not compete.

The Art Committee, to whom the organisation of prizes and awards was entrusted, was composed of Mr. T. A. Cook and Mr. G. S. Robertson (members of the British Olympic Council), who were fortunate enough to obtain, in the preliminary stages of their work, the valuable assistance and advice of Mr. Thomas Brock, R.A., and Mr. A. S. Cope, A.R.A.

The olympic victory ceremony 1908 (with diploma)


The commission for designing both kinds of medals was given to Mr. Bertram Mackennal, A.R.A., who also kindly gave the Council designs for the various official badges.

(Source document:  Official Report 1908, page 41 / 42)
winner medal case olympic games 1908 London
 Image copyright © by Ulf Ström,
Stockholm, Sweden

The 250 gold medals ordered by the Concil were placed in red boxes, 260 silver in dark blue boxes, and 260 bronze in yellow boxes. 

For the Prize Medal the figure of St. George for England represented the Games of 1908. The athlete, crowned between two emblematic female figures, was designed to from a permanent side of the Olympic Prize Medal in all future meetings. The name of the champion and of his sport will be incised upon the rim.  In the team competitions the presentation of medals was regulated as follows:

- rowing, football, hockey, polo:
one gold medal für the winning team

- gymnastics:
the winnning team was awarded a gold medal and each of its members a silver medal. The second team was awarded a silver medal and each of its members a bronze medal.

- yacht racing:
a gold medal to the helmsman of the winning team, silver medals to the crew. A silver medal to the helmsman of the team in second place an bronze medals für the crew. 

A commemorative medal, in gold, was also given to the owners of the winning yachts.

Furthermore, in the 12 m and 15 m classes, a gold medal was given to the mate or the leading hand of the winning crew and a silver medal to the mate of the crew in second place.

(Source document:  Olympic Review, 1972)

Participation Medal

Olympic participation Medal 1908 London
Available in 4 different versions
Material: Gilt Silver Weight: 61 gr
Material: Silver Weight: 60 gr
Material: Bronze Weight: 60 gr
Material: Pewter Weight: 47 gr
Diameter: 50,7 mm Design by: Bertram  Mackennal 
Thickness: 5 mm Mint: Vaughton, England
Obverse: A Greek four-horsed chariot. Two men side by side: the driver and the judge, who is ready to reward the winning athlete the victory palm.
Reverse: Winged figure of Fame standing on globe between legend.
participant medal olympic games 1908 london participant medal olympic games 1908 london
The medal was struck in silver-gilt, silver, bronze and metal. The silver gilt, silver and bronze medals were offered to the officials and those who did not compete. A commemorative medal in metal was given to each participant with his competitors badge.
Presentation Case

participant medal olympic games 1908 london


Diploma of the Prize 3 Mile Team Race, United Kindom;
J.E. Deakin, A.J. Robertson, W. Coales, H.A. Wilson, N.F. Hallows
Description: Victory with wreath between Hellas and Britannia, athlete seated on r., winner`s medal below, athletes on sides.
Size: 51,8 x 39,6 cm
Design by: Bernard J. Partridge
Printed by: unknown
Signed by: Lord Desborough, Pdresident of the British Olympic Council
Copies: 500

Wilson, Robertson, Deakin and Coales
Winning the first heat of the 3-Mile team race

In addition to the medals, Diplomas of two kinds were designed by Mr. Bernard Partridge for the Council, and are reproduced in this Report. (= Official Report)

The first design, for prize-winners only, representing a winged Victory between the figures of Hellas and Britannia, was exhibited in the Royal Adademy, and was awarded in its larger form to winners of gold medals, and in a slightly smaller form to winners of silver and bronze medals.

Each winner of a gold medal also received the smaller form of this diploma for presentation to his Club or Association as a memorial of his success.

The second design, representing Victory seated, was worked out in black and red, and formed a Diploma of Merit, which was awarded by the various Associations controlling each series of events in the Games to athletes who achieved a high standard of excellence without getting first, second, or third in their competition. In a certain number of restricted cases this diploma was also awardet to officials and other for services rendered to the British Olympic Council in the organisation of the Games.

It was thought right not to confuse the design in either class of medal by too long an inscription, so the event for which each prize-medal was awarded was incised upon the edge of its rim, with sufficient space left for the addition of the winner`s name. The same inscription was placed on the box containing each medal. The 250 gold medals ordered by the Concil were placed in red boxes, 260 silver in dark blue boxes, and 260 bronze in yellow boxes. The large diplomas accompanying gold medals were rolled up in tubes, 20 1/2 inches long, of red, and the club diplomas were placed in deep crimson tubes, 18 1/2 inches in length. Dark blue and yellow tubes (also 18 1/2 inches long) were provided für second and third prize diplomas respectively. The diplomas of merit (of which 500 were ordered) were placed in light blue tubes, 17 inches long. The Commemorative Medals, being larger than the prize medals, were easily distinguishable, apart from the use of various coloured boxes for each class of these awards.

(Source document:  Official Report 1908, Page 42)


badge olympic games 1908 london

Badge Judge, Size 57 mm
The Olympic Badges 1908:  
Committee Competitor
Doctor Judge
Linesman Referee
Score Keeper Starter
Steward Time Keeper


poster olympic games 1908 london No official poster for the modern Olympic Games would be produced until
the Games in Stockholm in 1912. The picture you see is no poster, it`s a Programme cover
from the Olympic Games 1908.

Designer:   A.S. Cope


The executive authorities of the France-British Exhibition were naturally not so conversant with the exigencies of a great international sporting meeting as the members of the British Olympic Council, and they rightly considered the Stadium to be a very valuable asset in the attractiveness of the Exhibition as a whole, an asset which had eventually cost quite £6o,ooo, if not more, and which had therefore to be so worked as to ensure a return at least, if not a fair profit, on the outlay. It was hoped that everyone who went to see the Exhibition in the latter half of July would certainly go into the Stadium as well, and also that many who were first attracted to the Stadium would pass out of it into the Exhibition. This was a very legitimate and natural hypothesis ; but it led to the installation of a large number of entrances and turn-stiles connecting the Stadium with the Exhibition, and to a system of checks and counterchecks, which occasionally proved annoying to those unfamiliar with the complicated problem to be solved. It was obvious that people who only paid a shilling to enter the Exhibition could not be given free admittance to the Stadium, and that spectators who paid to see the sports could not thereby claim uncontrolled admittance to the Exhibition. On the other hand, the mere proximity of the Exhibition to the Stadium was an advantage which
everyone connected with the Games was ready to appreciate,

ticket olympic games 1908 london

for it not only enabled the athletes, the officials, and the spectators to fill up pauses in the programme with profitable and delightful visits to the sights outside, but it gave them facilities in such buildings as the Imperial Sports Club or the Garden Club for rest, refreshment, and inter-communication which could never have been so luxuriously provided within the building that itself contained the arena of the sports. The arrangement of the safeguards necessary for the proper enjoyment of these facilities was necessarily quite novel and unprecedented ; and it will therefore be permissible to say that it occasionally showed signs of wear and tear, and sometimes broke down almost completely. But on the whole the extremely complicated organisation worked efficiently enough, and its deficiencies were more hardly felt by the casual spectator than either by the athletes or the officials of the Games ; and since this Record is primarily connected with the Games, and only secondarily with the Exhibition in so far as the two came into contact, I may dismiss in these pages the question of the spectators with very few remarks indeed. In the first place it was discovered that the advantage, imagined by foreign critics to be the pre-eminent asset of London's Games, namely, our national love of sport, turned out, curiously enough, to be rather harmful than otherwise to the Stadium attendances. The reason was that we are so accustomed, as a nation, to attend innumerable sporting meetings of every description all through the year that the addition of one more to the crowded calendar was at first scarcely understood. The Boat-race, the Derby, the Final Cup Tie, the great matches of the Cricket-season, the University Sports, the Amateur Athletic Championships, Henley Regatta, and many fixtures more, were to be seen as easily in 1908 as in any other year, and they attracted no fewer crowds of every class in that year than they did before. Apart, therefore, from all questions of time and money, it must be remembered that we were offering only one more entertainment to a public already nearly sated with such shows, and to a nation which
only began to realise the extraordinary nature of the Games themselves when they were nearly over. The meeting was never adequately advertised by the Exhibition authorities, who must have thought they needed no advertisement, and the prices of the seats were at first placed so high that whole blocks remained empty. 

This was a matter, of course, in which the British Olympic Council could not unduly press their views, for they took the Stadium as a gift from the Exhibition authorities, and were naturally obliged to allow those authorities a fairly free hand in the methods they chose to recoup themselves for their expenditure. But it soon became obvious that prices which ranged from £8. 8s. for a box on the opening day to 2s. 6d. for an upper row any morning other than the first or last were much too high, even for the western side along the swimming-bath ; and though prices were originally given at 6d. for standing room on the east side, the other seats on that side were at first also fixed at much too high a figure. The lack of advertisement seriously affected advance bookings, and the rain of the first week discouraged even Londoners from coming in large numbers. Nor could appeals in the newspapers after the Games began convince the public that only a fortnight was given them for seeing the greatest athletic gathering in the history of the world. Yet on Marathon Day at least 9o,ooo persons were in the Stadium looking on, and those outside were offering from 10s. to £5 for a seat.

A total of at least 300,000 persons must have seen the Games in all, which means more in England than, for instance, it might do in Athens, where the whole available population within reach of the sports came to see them every day. The English audience, on the whole, changed from day to day, with a few notable exceptions, and we may therefore consider that in spite of every difficulty a creditable proportion of our population saw the Games of 1908, in so far as those carried out in the Stadium are concerned. And I am not taking into account now either the spectators who witnessed all the Olympic events in other places during the year, or the enormous crowd that watched the Marathon Race all the way from Windsor to the very gates of the Stadium.

(Source document: Official Report 1908,  page 389)

Numbers of visitors:   about 300.000


Franco British Exhibition 1908 Vignette Examples:

1908 1
1908 31908 51908 6

Picture Postcard

Some Examples

pc1908 10 pc1908 11

pc1908 12 pc1908 13

pc1908 14 pc1908 22

pc1908 21 pc 1908 5036

The Challenge Prizes

In addition to the Medals and Diplomas, which were the only awards that could be kept by the recipient as his personal property, the following Challenge Cups  were given, each of which was insured by the  British Olympic Council for sums varying from  L 100 to L 300 :-

(1) The Brunetta Statuette for Rowing.

(2) The Brunetta Trophy for Swimming.
(3) The Football Association's Trophy.
(4) The Gold and Silversmiths' Cup for Wrestling.
(5) The Hurlingham Trophy for Polo.
(6) The International Cup (reproduced from the Pourtales Vase) for Fencing.
(7) The Prince of Wales's Cup for Cycling.
(8) Lord Westbury's Cup for Clay Bird Shooting.

For each of the above Cups, the following agreement, signed by each recipient and countersigned by the President of his National Association, was held by the British Olympic Council :-

The Challenge cups presented in 1908 for races in the olympic games.


We, the undersigned, having been awarded the Challenge Cup for ................ at the Olympic Games of London on July 25, 1908, and the same having been delivered to us by the British Olympic Council, do hereby individually and collectively engage to return the same in good order to the British Olympic Committee on or before January 1, 1912, in accordance with the Rules of the International Olympic Committee, and to be responsible for, and to repair all damage that may occur to the same between July 25, 1908, and January 1, 1912; and if at any time before January 1, 1912, the International Olympic Committee shall have ceased to exist, we hereby engage to send back the Cup to its original donor through the representatives of the British Olympic Committee appointed for that purpose.



Four other Challenge Cups were also presented for these Games, and the agreement for these was left to the care of the International Olympic Committee, to whose charge they were committed for future meetings.

(1) The Greek Trophy for the Marathon Race.
(2) The Prague Trophy for Gymnastics.
(3) The Montgomery Statuette for Discus.
(4) The French Vase for Yachting.

This makes a total of twelve Challenge Cups which will continue in these Games for ever ; and it was a matter of considerable satisfaction to the British Olympic Council that so large and permanent an addition to the prize list of the Games had been made on the occasion of the London meeting.

The Council felt that the principle of giving nothing except medals and diplomas to become the personal property of recipients was the right principle, and that all other prizes should be in the nature of Perpetual Challenge Cups. Their representatives on the International Olympic Committee will use their best endeavours to secure the application of this principle in all future Games in the official cycle.

(Source document:  Official Report 1908, page 43 ff)


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