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Lot #6148
Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics Torch Carried by Gold Medalist Archer John Williams

Relay-used 1996 Atlanta torch carried by a legend of American Olympic archery

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Estimate: $3000+
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Relay-used 1996 Atlanta torch carried by a legend of American Olympic archery

Official Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics torch carried by gold medal-winning American archer John Williams during the fifth day of the Olympic torch relay, which made its way through San Luis Obispo, California on May 2, 1996. Constructed of gold-plated brass, aluminum, and Georgian pecan hardwood, the torch measures 31.75″ in length and 2.5″ at its widest point. Designed by Peter Mastrogiannis, the wooden handle represents the connection of the flame between heaven and earth, and the torch's twenty-two reeds, representing every host city of the Olympic Games since 1896, are gathered by bands at the top and bottom, with the top displaying the Atlanta Games logo and the quilt of leaves design, and the bottom band listing all Olympic cities and their dates since 1896; the bands, bottom cap, and handle bear scattered wear, scuffing, and fading, and some of the upper reed tips are slightly bent.

American archer John Williams (born 1953) was practically invincible at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He set Olympic records in both halves of the double FITA round, and his final score—2528 of a possible 2880—easily distanced himself from a second place finish. Williams’s gold medal was the first Olympic archery medal for the United States in 52 years. In 2003, the National Archery Association honored him with its J. Maurice Thompson award for outstanding and meritorious service to the sport.

Included with the torch are several uncommon torchbearer items from Williams’s personal collection. These include:

An impressive wooden torch holder display, 14.5″ x 29.5″, which features: a large color photo of Williams running with the torch; an engraved plaque that reads: “The 1996 Olympic Torch Relay, In commemoration of the participation of John C. Williams, May 2; San Luis Obispo”; and a lower plaque that shows a map of the torch’s route across the United States.

An official “1996 Olympic Torch Relay” certificate issued to “John C. Williams,” 17 x 11, which includes its original presentation folder and transmittal letters.

An official gold-plated “Torchbearer” pin from the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics torch relay, with original presentation box that includes a certificate of authenticity on underside of cover.

A green polyester torch relay flag from the XXVI Olympiad, 40″ x 20″, which prominently features a large white pictogram of a running torchbearer.

A 1983 Finder Image International “Greatest Olympians, XXth Olympiad-1972 Munich” trading card, No. 74, which depicts “John Williams, U.S.A.,” aiming his bow on September 10, 1972.

The torch relay was run from April 27 to July 19, 1966, and covered 26,875 km across the United States by over 12,000 torchbearers. Its journey included a trek on the Pony Express, a ride on the Union Pacific Railroad, and the first instance in which an Olympic relay torch made its way into space when it was carried aboard Space Shuttle Columbia as part of STS-78. Supported by rock solid provenance and a myriad of unique Olympic keepsakes, this is a highly desirable relay-used torch that derives from the personal collection of an American gold medalist.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Olympic Memorabilia
  • Dates: #613 - Ended July 22, 2021