Vintage Olympic Posters, London, and a Treasure Hunt

Like most people, I get a lot of email offers to enlarge body parts I don’t have; notices of the millions (billions, even) that I have won by virtue of being the beneficiary of a now dead Nigerian prince; and come-hither come-ons from co-eds who should spend more time on their studies and less time on-line.

Nigerian Email Cartoon
Nigerian Email Spam..

So I was a little suspicious when I received an email from someone I didn’t know, asking if it would be possible for me to acquire a variety of hard-to-find and expensive-to-acquire posters. The email wasn’t addressed to me personally, but rather to the info@ address on my website, and it was signed by a young woman who lived in Europe. The posters she was looking for (if indeed she was looking for anything at all) were an assortment of posters from every Winter Olympics ever held – from 1924 to the present.

Treasure Map
Treasure Hunt!

Now I love a treasure hunt as much as the next person, but I am by nature a bit of a skeptic (also incredibly gullible, trusting, and transparent – but hey, I think the contradictions add character and confuse the enemy…) and there were parts of this story that didn’t seem to add up to me. Amassing the collection was possible – poster dealers have a bit of a collective data-base of available pieces and I could easily write or call my colleagues in the business to see which of the desired posters they had in their extensive inventories – but it would be time-consuming and I wasn’t sure that this was some kind of ruse that I hadn’t yet figured out.

London Olympics Poster Vintage
London Olympics, 1948

(The request came during the same week that I received a rather substantial check in the mail from someone I didn’t know, with the word ‘order’ written on it. When I Googled the name of the person who’s spidery hand-writing was on the check, it appeared to come from a spinster who lives (lived?) in Indiana, and who didn’t return my phone calls. The check remains uncashed in my desk drawer – another scam the point of which escapes me.)

Oslo Olympics
Oslo, 1952
Chamomix, 1924
Chamonix, 1924

A little research indicated that the young woman who was looking for these posters worked for a successful businessman who had a personal interest in the Olympics and who could afford to acquire just about anything he wanted. Okey-dokey – good enough for me… If you want a collection of vintage posters and can pay for them, I am happy to scour the globe and find them for you. And I did. I bought posters in Norway, Switzerland, England, the United States and Brazil. I spent so much money in one day buying posters from other posters dealers around the world that my credit card company called to verify three times. But I found every poster the client wanted.

Sapporo Winter Games Olympics poster
Sapporo Winter Games
Lillehammer, 1994
Lillehammer, 1994

Some of the images needed to be linen-backed, and some needed a bit of restoration work. Some posters arrived in a timely fashion, well-packed and well-handled, others were … well, let’s just say it was interesting to see how cavalierly some folks ship valuable posters.

Innsbruck 76 Vintage Olympics Poster
Innsbruck, 1976

Not all treasure hunts end in success, but ours did: we found every poster on the list! (OK, I’m mentally patting myself n the back as I write this… ) When they were all lined, refreshed and restored we carefully packed them up and shipped them off to their new home. It was a great experience, and I learned that some of the emails that might look like scams might just lead you to places you wouldn’t expect…

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