The word “memorabilia” refers to objects that are kept or collected because of their historical interest — especially those associated with memorable people or events. So, when it comes to the Olympic Games, the categories of items that one can collect are at least as numerous and varied as the number of sports on the Olympic Program in recent years.
A sampling of these categories would include Autographs, Badges and Pins, Certificates and Diplomas, Clothing and Accessories, Credentials and Passes, Decals and Stickers, Drinking Glasses, Mugs, and Steins, Film and Music, Mascot Dolls and Figurines, Medals, Paper Items, Patches, Plates, Posters, Programs, Seals and Vignettes, Tickets, Torches, and Trading Cards. Not only could one include additional categories, one could also make the case that some of the aforementioned categories have sub-categories, and some of those sub-categories also have sub-categories. So, as you can see, Olympic Memorabilia encompasses an extremely diverse collection of items. What’s great about being a collector is that one can create his or her own categories and either specialize in a particular category and/or sub-category, collect an example from a number of categories, or make the commitment to collect as many examples from as many categories as one’s budget and time permit.
Values are as diverse as the categories themselves and can range from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars for extremely old and/or scarce items. For example, in recent years, torches from Helsinki 1952 and Squaw Valley 1960 have sold at auction for prices in the mid-six figures and the categories of Torches and Medals — with Award Medals as a sub-category — will likely continue to lead the way to higher and higher prices. What can also add a premium to the value of a particular item is its provenance, i.e., its chain of custody with regard to its original and/or previous owner(s). As one might expect, those items which once belonged to famous athletes and/or officials and can be documented as such will always sell for more than similar items lacking this pedigree.
As the Olympic Games have grown exponentially over their 120-year history, so have both the number of “internal” items required for their organization and the number of souvenirs created to commemorate them. This ongoing evolution will continue to force new and seasoned collectors alike to answer the following question: “What do I want to collect?”