Last Modified: Friday, August 03, 2012 6:37 PM
I’d like to know what the gold medals and silver medals and bronze medals are worth.
According to the British tabloid the Daily Mail — which calculated each medal’s value based on its metal content — this year’s gold medal is worth $600 or so, a silver medal is worth just over $300 and the bronze is worth about $5.
Each medal is a little over 3 inches wide and about a quarter-inch thick and weighs just under a pound. The makeup of each medal, according to the games’ official website, London2012.com:
Gold — 92.5 percent silver, 1.34 percent gold and the rest copper.
Silver — 92.5 percent silver and the rest copper.
Bronze — 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin.
The gold, silver and copper came from mines that Olympic sponsor Rio Tinto owns in Utah and Mongolia. The zinc comes from Australia; the tin was mined at Cornwall, England.
On its website, Rio Tinto says almost nine tons of metal went into the Olympics’ and Paralympics’ 4,700 medals, which were made by the Royal Mint. The medals in early July were placed under guard in the Tower of London, from which they’re removed as needed.
The medals show Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, on the front, and the back bears an original design.
Its “five symbolic elements,” as listed — minus the British spellings — on the games’ site:
The curved background implies a bowl similar to the design of an amphitheater.
The core emblem is an architectural expression, a metaphor for the modern city, and is deliberately jewel-like.
The grid suggests both a pulling together and a sense of outreach — an image of radiating energy that represents the athletes’ efforts.
The River Thames in the background is a symbol for London and also suggests a fluttering baroque ribbon, adding a sense of celebration.
The square is the final balancing motif of the design, opposing the overall circularity of the design, emphasizing its focus on the center and reinforcing the sense of “place” as in a map inset.
Winners at the first modern Olympics in 1896 received olive wreaths and silver medals; runners-up got laurel wreaths and bronze medals. The gold-silver-bronze tradition began in 1904.
Incidentally, the International Olympic Committee allows only metals to be used in the composition of medals for the summer games. But its rules for the winter games’ awards are more lax.
“There are no rules stipulating a particular shape or design,” reads an IOC fact sheet.
“Along with the basic gold, silver and bronze, other materials may be introduced: the medals of the Albertville Games (France) included a crystal disc; the Lillehammer (Norway) medals had a granite element, and the medals of the Nagano Games (Japan) were partially worked in lacquer.”
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