Lot #401
R. Earl Johnson’s Paris Olympics 1924 Bronze Winners Medal

Earl Johnson’s bronze winners medal from the punishing 1924 cross-country race, the last ever held in the Olympics

Estimate: $0+

Description

Earl Johnson’s bronze winners medal from the punishing 1924 cross-country race, the last ever held in the Olympics

The 1924 Summer Games bronze winners medal presented to groundbreaking African-American US runner R. Earl Johnson. Medal is approximately 55mm in diameter and weighs approximately 76 grams. The winners medal was struck by the Paris mint and was designed by Andre Rivaud, and is stamped along the edge “Bronze.” One side of the medal features a winning athlete helping up his defeated foe and the artist’s signature along the bottom, with the reverse having a raised relief of various pieces of sporting equipment, with the artist’s initials below them, and “VIII eme Olympiade Paris 1924,” in raised letters. In extra fine plus to near uncirculated condition. Included is an expansive photo album full of photos and postcards from the 1924 Olympic Games, complete with Earl Johnson’s own handwritten captions, including a photo of Johnson posing with other members of the track team.

The men’s cross-country event of these Olympics was run on one of the hottest days in Parisian history, with temperatures soaring to around 103 degrees. These grueling conditions turned the event from a race into a survival test. Only 15 of the 38 participants who started the race managed to cross the finish line. The race was won by the famed Paavo Nurmi, with Johnson finishing third, some three minutes behind the winner. Following the carnage, the International Olympic Committee discontinued this particular event. Johnson would also capture a bronze medal as a member of the cross country relay team with Arthur Studenroth and August Fager. Earl Johnson was, especially as an African-American, a successful pioneer of Olympic glory. A beautiful relic from one of the Games’s most brutal races ever run.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Auction
  • Dates: #437 - Ended September 16, 2014