125 Years of the Olympic Games

The German sports collectors group IMOS (Internationale Motivgruppen Olympiaden und Sport) always publishes a special issue for their annual meeting. In 2021, the meeting was to take place in Güstrow and Teterow (Germany), but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions.

Nevertheless, IMOS published a special 80-page issue in German, especially dedicated to the first Olympic Games in 1896 and its founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. There is also a report on a special machine cancel of 1924, as well as on the designs for the special stamps of Helsinki 1952.

The special issue received AICO Support.

  • Cover, 2021 IMOS special issue

Here is a look at the content:

“Allow me, Meyer, the Olympic photographer – 125 years ago Athens celebrated the first Olympic Games of the modern era” by Rüdiger Fritz. Albert Meyer and his wife actually traveled to Athens as photographers of the German team. Meyer did a good job of bringing the highlighting the athletes. Many of his photographs give us an idea of how the Games of 1896 took place. Some of his photos were later used on stamps.

Meyer was the first to photograph the IOC. Seated at the table are Secretary General Pierre de Coubertin, President Demetrios Vikelas and Alexej Boutovsky (RUS), standing: Willibald Gebhardt, Jiri Guth (BOH), Ferenc Kemény and Viktor Balck (from left).

Meyer, as a photographer, was naturally anxious to sell the photos after the Olympic Games as individual prints or as an album. The reference to the photographer is usually missing.

“Pierre de Coubertin – a numismatic look at the IOC founder” by Armin Haug. Coubertin was the founder of the modern Olympic Games. He designed the Olympic flag and adopted the motto “Citius – Altius – Fortius”. He was President of the IOC for many years and IOC Honorary President. In this article, Armin Haug looks at Coubertin from a numismatic viewpoint. He found more than a dozen different coins from Belgium to Zambia commemorating Coubertin.

“The German Gymnasts in Athens 1896” by Christian Kunz. In this article, Christian Kunz highlights the trip of the German gymnasts centered around their group leader, Fritz Hofmann. In Greece, the team was cheered. Alfred Flatow, Gustav Felix Flatow, Carl Schuhmann, Hermann Weingärtner and others, returned home with many medals … and not only from gymnastics.

Unfortunately, their success in Greece was not lauded by the Deutsche Turnerschaft (German Gymnastics Federation), who had boycotted the Games. In fact, the returning gymnasts were subsequently banned from competitions in Germany.

Christian Kunz shows, however, that the successful athletes were honored in by the press, though this would not prevent the Jewish sport stars, the cousins Alfred and Gustav Flatow, from being murdered more than 40 years later in a Nazi concentration camp.

“The Olympic Machine cancel “LILLE-GARE / NORD” 1924″ by Laurentz Jonker. The author acquired the 1924 machine cancel, “LILLE-GARE / NORD,” as part of an auction lot. The cancel is mentioned in the Official Report of the 1924 Olympic Games, but no image of the cancel had been seen thus far. While Jonker shares his doubts with collectors, he nevertheless believes that the machine cancel may have been used — but only  on the opening day of the Games — and should therefore must be considered very rare.

“Helsinki 1952 – a not only philatelic look back” by Thomas Lippert. His report begins in 1940 when Helsinki was scheduled to host the Olympic Games. Acts of war caused the Games to be cancelled and in 1952 there was another attempt.

Designs for the stamps were submitted via a competition. Lippert reports on the accepted designs, but also shows the other works. The article ends with the special cancellations. Their place of use can be distinguished by letters in each postmark. Shown is a postcard sent from the Olympic village of Otaniemi, with greetings from the victorious Czech rowing team in the coxed four (Karel Mejta, Jiří Havlis, Jan Jindra, Stanislav Lusk and cox Miroslav Korand).

Related links:

Download “IMOS Sonderheft zum Jahrestreffen 2021”

IMOS website