Exceedingly rare prototype of the official Special Ceremonies torch used in the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympics, comprised of aluminum alloy, measuring 19.5″ in length and 4.75″ at its widest point, designed by Boris Tuchin. Open top section reveals the fuel pipe. The torch bears various dings and scuffs, with toning to handle and slight dents to the upper rim. In all, about 5,435 torchbearers participated in the relay, which lasted from June 19 to July 19. The Moscow Olympics were especially controversial due to the USSR's recent invasion of Afghanistan, and the United States led 65 countries in a boycott of the Games.
Included with the torch is a first English edition of The Olympic Flame: The Great Olympic Symbol by Conrado Durantez, hardcover with dust jacket, published by the International Olympic Committee in 1988, which features an image of an actual Special Ceremonies Torch on the cover. The section dedicated to the Moscow torch reads, in part: ‘A group of engineers from Leningrad, headed by Boris Tuchin, designed the torch for Moscow 80. It differed considerably from its predecessors…Liquid gas (a mixture of propane and butane) was chosen for the torch because it guaranteed an even flame, was light in weight and ensured total safety for the runner.’
There were two types of torches used in the 1980 Moscow Olympic torch relay. While the torch used in the relay itself is fairly common, a Special Ceremonies torch, which features an alternate design, was used in the lighting ceremonies in Moscow, Leningrad, Minsk, and Kiev. Only 20 of these Special Ceremonies torches were ever made, thus making them extremely rare. According to Oleg Vorontsov, expert on the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and author of the International Society of Olympic Historians magazine article: ‘The ‘unknown’ Moscow-80 torch, an Olympic mystery, only two prototypes of the Special Ceremonies torches were ever made, ‘as proof of concept.’ The prototype is slightly shorter than the actual Special Ceremonies torch, and the handle is made of metal, as opposed to plastic on the actual torch. One of only two prototypes extant, this torch represents a tremendously rare piece of sporting history and an historical, museum-quality artifact from the XXII Olympiad.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.