Who does this Olympic Medal belong to?
March 2, 2011 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Help me find who this Olympic Medal belongs to!

I have a 1952 Helsinki (Summer Olympics) Bronze medal. This was in my grandfather’s estate. Unfortunately I do not know the circumstances that my grandfather acquired this medal.

My father believes he remembers it being discussed it was given to my grandfather by the man who won it, who was the bronze medal winner for a track field event (US) (he believes the shot put but is not positive). I have for years wanted to return this medal to the family of the recipient it was rewarded to and now have officially started the search.

The two men who placed bronze for shot put and discus are James Fuchs and James Dillion for the '52 Olympics.

Before I look at trying to contact the family of either of these men I would like to see if I can narrow down who the medal belongs to.

Is there any identification on the medal that was done by the Olympics that would help me identify the individual or the sport it was awarded to? There is no name, or sport identification on the medal, there is some alpha-numeric and symbols that are on the edge of the medal. I do not know what these mean or if this would help with the identification.

If identification is NOT possible via the medal – any other suggestions? I believe that my grandfather acquired this medal maybe in the 1970s-1980s in Sarasota, Florida. I could not find any information if either James ever lived there to help narrow it down.
posted by lutzla23 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Sadly, James Fuchs died last fall. His fascinating NYT obituary notes his close friendship with George Steinbrenner; perhaps he met your grandfather during Spring Training in Tampa.
posted by carmicha at 8:04 PM on March 2, 2011

According to this site, "medals must mention the sport and the event for which they are awarded." That link is for the 2008 Olympics, but I believe that part wasn't changed after 1952. I assume that means the alphanumeric code on the side identifies the medal. I'm looking at the 1952 medals, and that's the only place it could be... Can you type out the code or take a picture? That might help the search.
posted by studioaudience at 8:11 PM on March 2, 2011

The IOC website includes a form for submitting questions; maybe you could inquire and/or send them a photo of the marks on the side.
posted by carmicha at 8:16 PM on March 2, 2011

James Dillion also died last fall at his home in Arlington, TX. His obituary mentions his passion for refurbishing old aircraft. Is that a clue as to whether your grandfather might have met him?
posted by carmicha at 8:21 PM on March 2, 2011

Raleigh DeGeer Amyx, a former White House staffer who collects Olympic medals (among other things), has a consulting practice that includes authenticating medals. See his, um, retro website here (note prominent depiction of Helsinki gold medal) and his, um, interesting (and, I suspect, self-penned) Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_DeGeer_Amyx.
posted by carmicha at 8:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: HThanks all for the great info. I am working on posting the info with the additional details of the Medal in the markings it has around the edges.

My grandfather actually has a strong connection with baseball (was the 3rd base coach for the Indians in the early 1970s). I did see the Fuchs’ connection with Steinbrenner and wondered about that option as well.

I will update shortly with more information on the medal!
posted by lutzla23 at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2011

There's a mailing list for sports historians here (H-Sport, a subgroup of H-net). You'll have to sign up, but I don't think there's any requirement to have an academic email address. There are quite a few Olympic historians on the list.
posted by AFII at 1:42 AM on March 3, 2011

Is it definitely a prize medal? All the prize medals have that same design. There were also participant medals given out at the Helsinki Olympics that look like they are bronze.
posted by IanMorr at 1:17 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: Hey All,

Update on this - yes it is definately a prize Medal.

I narrowed down to a track and field medal an I believe I found the "owner" as they had ties to the same city that my Grandfather lived in Sarasota (and yes it was the shotput).

So I have contacted the heir about returning it to their family and I did receive a response back, which seemed more "defensive" that I anticipated. (Asking questions about the Medal, almost seeming to to believe it was what it was).

I responded back with questions answered but never hear back again.

Do I contact again and just reiterate that I just want to return this to the family that it rightfully belong or do I just let it go? If I let it go what do I do with it? Should I try to contact another family member? I've offered to speak with this person over the phone thinking maybe I could help resolve any concerns but again no response.

Just to be clear, I am NOT looking for money, award or any recognition. My grandfather was also a professional athelete so I understand and respect the offer of people returning memorbilia to families. Unfortunately I do not know the extent to which my Grandfather came into possession of this Medal, but I feel uncomfortable keep it as it it is not ours and I would think that there may be someone in that family who may appreciate it (or at least I would hope).

Thanks all!
posted by lutzla23 at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2011

If you're reasonably confident it was awarded to Fuchs for the shotput then I would contact them again and let them know you want to send it back and ask for an address. I don't know why you haven't received a response from the family member you initially contacted, but there is both an e-mail address and a phone number for the daughter who confirmed his death to the NYT on the website of the foundation he co-founded.
posted by IanMorr at 11:14 AM on October 10, 2011

Thanks for the update! If the Fuchs family doesn't want it, you could donate the medal to the Silver Shield Foundation. They could either sell it to raise funds for the cause or accession it into their collection. Either way, it's closer to home.

The Silver Shield website has not been updated in a long time (several of its notables are dead). However the Board also includes a Douglas S. Fuchs (not mentioned in the NYT obituary but possibly a grandchild) who is described as the president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. It seems to me like His contact info is here.

James Fuch's bio is still on the foundation web site too. It mentions his affiliation with numerous other organizations that would probably be thrilled to have the medal, including Yale, the Saint Elmo Society, and the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. The gift might have more meaning when shared with these groups.
posted by carmicha at 4:12 PM on October 10, 2011

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