Tag Archives: Jesse Owens


What An Olympic Gold Medal Is Really Worth

With the start of the Winter Olympics, the whole world has turned its eyes toward Sochi, Russia — and everyone is dreaming of gold. Here are some details about the tradition of awarding medals in Olympic history, as well as the lowdown on the gold, silver and bronze medals at this year’s Olympic Games in Sochi.

In the beginning, there were no medals. The Olympics began as a series of contests between Greek city-states back in 776 BC. Held every four years for more than a millennium, the games included running events, wrestling, javelin throwing and chariot racing. Winners received an olive wreath from the wild olive tree that grew at Olympia — and four years’ worth of bragging rights.

The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Event winners received a silver medal and an olive branch — symbolizing the original olive wreath of the ancient games — while the second-place contestant took home a copper or bronze medal and a branch of the laurel tree.

The custom of awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three finishers in each event commenced with the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri. At that time, the first-place medals were solid gold. However, that practice quickly became too expensive, and the last time pure gold medals were awarded to Olympic winners was in Stockholm, Sweden, at the 1912 Summer Games.

The gold medal at this year’s Sochi Olympic Games weighs 531 grams, making it one of the largest ever awarded. If it were made of pure gold, it would be worth nearly $24,000 at today’s gold prices. Based on its composition, however, it’s worth quite a bit less.

Here’s the breakdown of precious metal content in each medal:

Gold: Composed of 525 grams of silver (at least .925 grade) covered with six grams of pure gold. Worth about $600 based on today’s gold prices.
Silver: Composed of 525 grams of silver (at least .925 grade). Worth about $370 based on today’s silver prices.
Bronze: Composed of copper mixed with zinc and tin. Worth about $3.50.

According to the International Olympic Committee, approximately 4,000 pounds of silver, 1,540 pounds of bronze and 13 pounds of gold were used in the fabrication of the medals for the Sochi Games. The process employed about 30 expert jewelers and engravers, and took several months to complete — with each medal requiring about 18 hours of work.

It’s good to keep in mind that the value of an Olympic medal is often much higher than the precious metal it contains. Typically, the more popular the athlete who wins the metal, the more it’s going to be worth to a collector. For example, an Olympic gold medal won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games recently sold at auction for nearly $1.5 million, the highest price ever paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

If all this Olympics talk has stimulated your interest in buying, selling or just learning more about gold and silver, come see the experts at Liberty Coin & Currency

Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was first established over 16 years ago and is now located in Vancouver and Portland. We also buy gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.

Top 10 Gold Stories of 2013


It’s been a fascinating year for the world’s most popular precious metal. From treasure hunters and hoarders to the possible end of quantitative easing, gold has been in the news constantly throughout these past 12 months.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 gold stories of 2013 (in no particular order):

1. Jesse Owens sets another record
An Olympic gold medal won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games sold at an online auction for $1,466,574, the highest price for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the medal will be donated to the Jesse Owens Foundation, which helps underprivileged students attend college.

2. The Ship of Gold surfaces
Back in 1857, the SS Central America was traveling home from the California gold fields when she sank in a furious hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas — along with more than 30,000 pounds of gold. The treasure – including giant gold ingots and gold bars – was displayed at the 2013 Long Beach Coin, Stamp & Sports Collectibles Expo.

3. Gold prices tumble
The Federal Reserve announced that they were considering tapering their quantitative easing program, which led to gold’s decline this year. At the end of June 2013, gold hit a three-year low. Though the Fed has not yet begun the tapering process, prices remain low as investors wait for the final Fed statement of year, which is expected to come on December 18 at the end of their two-day meeting.

4. Carson City recluse’s massive gold hoard
After the death of Walter Samaszko, Jr., almost seven million dollars in gold was found in his Carson City garage. The gold coins and bullion were sold in two auctions this year, with the proceeds going to a substitute teacher in San Rafael, California, who is Samaszko’s first cousin and only heir.

5. Lose weight, get gold
The government of Dubai instituted a novel scheme that paid dieters in gold to lose weight. Seeking to raise awareness about rising obesity rates in the region, authorities held a contest in which anyone who lost at least 4.4 pounds would receive some gold. The biggest loser dropped 48 pounds, enough to earn him more the $3,000 in gold.

6. Time to make friends with a koala bear
Australian researchers found that microscopic particles of gold have been found in the leaves of eucalyptus trees. The hardy trees’ roots can descend more than 130 feet below the surface of the earth in search of water, and it seems that they bring up more than H2O from underground. However, don’t go buying a one-way ticket to Australia just yet – with a concentration of just 80 parts per billion, the gold is not visible to the naked eye.

7. Treasure hunters come up big
A Florida family of treasure hunters struck it big when they found approximately $300,000 worth of gold coins and gold chains off the Florida coast. The treasure found by the Schmitt family came from a convoy of 11 ships that were wrecked in 1715 en route from Havana to Spain. After the state got 20 percent of the find, the family split the rest with a salvage company that owns the rights to dive in the area.

8. Buy a piece of the California Gold Rush (on Craigslist)
If you’ve got a spare quarter of a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you might consider buying the 12-acre ghost town of Seneca that is home to a historic gold mine. Located about 100 miles northwest of Lake Tahoe, the town also boasts three small cabins and a bar called the Gin Mill.

9. Now that’s a lot of gold
The Mahabodhi temple is getting one of the world’s most expensive facelifts. The King of Thailand and others have donated 660 pounds of gold to built a new, ornate dome at the Indian temple where Buddha renounced attachment to material possessions and achieved enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.

10. For the man (or woman) who has everything
An Australian company is selling the world’s most expensive toilet paper. For a cool $1.3 million, you can buy what could potentially be the most extravagant gift on planet Earth: a roll of three-ply toilet paper speckled with 22-karat gold flakes. Need extra incentive? A free bottle of champagne is included with your purchase.

Do you have a favorite gold story from 2013 you’d like to share with us? Come see the experts at Liberty Coin & Currency in Portland and Vancouver.

Liberty Coin & Currency specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was first established over 16 years ago and is now located in Vancouver and Portland. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.