Atlanta Games' Memorabilia Rich In Nostalgia, If Not Value

ATLANTA (AP) — Collectors looking to cash in on memorabilia from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta may be disappointed.

Many of the items commemorating the event were made in such great quantities, they're not worth much, auctioneers and sports memorabilia experts tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"You can still find them easily,” Ingrid O’Neil, a longtime Olympic memorabilia dealer, said.

Take the commemorative stamps the U.S. Postal Service issued for the games. The newspaper says a sheet of 20 can be purchased on eBay for their face value of $6.40.

And then there are the countless products that recall the Atlanta games' electric blue mascot, Izzy.

O'Neil, who often includes Olympic mascots in her auctions of summer games' memorabilia, said many collectors are baffled by Izzy.

“'What in the world is this?' I hear that all the time," she told the newspaper.

There are exceptions for rarer items. A gold medal from the games can pull in more than $20,000, James Smith, a sports memorabilia specialist at the Chicago-based auction house Hindman, told the AJC.

The Nike sneakers sprinter Michael Johnson wore sold for $6,000 in 2012.

And the estimated 17,000 torches produced for the torch relay can each sell for about $1,500. If it carries the signature of Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron at the Atlanta games' opening ceremonies, it can fetch three to 10 times that amount, the newspaper said.

Scott Reed, a Lilburn banker, has organized regular meetings of people interested in buying, selling and trading Olympic pins from the Atlanta games. Most of them sell for pennies, but Reed said the hobby is a great way to meet people.

"You can walk up to anybody, and if you have a pin you can start a conversation,” he said.

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This story was first published on July 31, 2021. It was updated on Aug. 20, 2021 to correct the name of the Chicago-based auction house. It is Hindman, not Hindman’s.