Antiques Roadshow guest makes history after valuation of Olympic sign

Antiques Roadshow: Olympic marathon sign valued at £3.5K

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During a repeat of Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce and the team paid a visit to Forty Hall in London. The experts were presented with several interesting items, ranging from a pair of hands crafted by Lucian Freud, a destination board from the front of an early London bus, and a model of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird. However, it was a cast-iron Olympic Marathon sign from 1908 which sparked Jon’s interest.

The expert began by quizzing the guest about the unique item, before delving into its history.

“So they set the course all the way from Windsor Castle, which was the start all the way through North London, finally arriving at White City, and that distance was exactly 26 miles and 385 yards,” Jon explained.

“And that distance has been the standard ever since. So this is the birth really, the base of the modern marathon.”

“Yes,” the guest nodded in agreement as he detailed what happened on the day of the marathon where the sign was used.

“It was a really hot day and probably quite difficult for most of the runners,” he said.

Jon weighed in: “Especially as I don’t think they were allowed to sort of be hydrated as they went along.”

“They weren’t allowed to drink,” the guest replied. “They could have a sponge but they weren’t allowed to drink.”

The pair went on to discuss who won the marathon that day, stating: “It was a great day for Italy.”

When asked whether he was interested in running, the guest nodded admitting that was the reason he bought the sign.

“I found it at a boot sale in Preston and it was on the floor underneath a stallholders table,” the guest recalled.

“He wanted £80 for it but I got him down to £60.

“But if I hadn’t have been a runner I wouldn’t have bought it. It would probably be still laying in the back of his van I guess.”

“So a unique piece,” Jon continued before adding. “This is a one-off.

“It’s not in the greatest condition, but that’s fantastic.

“You haven’t repainted, you haven’t restored it. I think is a massively important piece of Olympic history. “

Turning his attention to the value of the sign, the expert said: “I think it should be in a Museum.

“The Museum of London or the Olympic Museum, that sort of thing.

“I would think if it was sold at auction, well, where are you going to find another? £2,500, £3,500.”

“That’s remarkable,” the guest said in shock as Jon added: “I love it.”

When chatting about the item after the valuation, Jon admitted it was the first time he’d ever seen a sign like it in Antiques Roadshow history.

He said: “This sign is one of the best things I’ve seen this year. It is historically important and this is the first time I’ve ever seen one.”

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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