Rare winner’s medal issued for the London 1908 Summer Olympics. Gold, 33.5 mm, 25 gm, designed by Bertram Mackennel, 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 of the event, “Winner Claybirds Teams.” Solid gold medals were awarded at only four Games—1900, 1904, 1908, and 1912—making this an especially appealing early Olympic piece.
With 22 sports and 110 events, the 1908 London Games proved to be the most prolific in Olympic history, lasting an unprecedented six months and four days. 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 first and only instance the country has done so in its history. Of the Games’ fifteen shooting sports events, the men’s trap team competition took place at the Uxendon Shooting School Club from July 9–11, and featured four six-man teams from three competing nations—Canada, the Netherlands, and Great Britain, with the latter supplying two eligible rosters. After three rounds of shooting, Great Britain bookended the leader board with first and third place finishes. Led by the elite marksmanship of Alexander Maunder, James Pike, and Charles Palmer, the winning British team narrowly defeated Canada for the gold, 407 to 405. Given that only 250 of these pure gold prizes were struck, 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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