Posters for the 1908 Olympic Games in London
The 1908 Games were originally scheduled to be held in Rome, but in 1906
Vesuvius erupted, and Italy had to devote its resources to rebuilding
Naples. London was able to take over the job, since it
was hosting the Franco-British Exhbition at the time, which gave
it a head start on preparations. They did an excellent job,
all things considered.
POSTERS: The image on the left above is a modern creation based on the cover of
a 1908 program, while the two on the right are railroad company ads
promoting travel to the Games, and until recently it was
believed that no official poster was created for these Games. We now have
proof that the second image shows the *real* official poster.
According to the
web site of the British Library
3/10/16 - Collector Steve Payne of Fleckney, England, sent me these
This poster by an unknown artist was lost until recently. No copy is
held in BOA archives, nor by the IOC, one reason being that the poster was
in fact prepared by the organisers of the Franco-British Exhibition. A copy
of the image was known on a folder describing the Olympic stadium, but it
was research by members of the Society of Olympic Collectors that
established it was the poster image. A postcard exists showing the poster
Steve added the following:
The postcard was posted in September 1908,
and has the Exposition cancellation on it,
so it's all genuine. As you can see there are
2 Olympic posters on the billboard.
I believe the person who found this was
Bob Wilcox, who is a senior member of the
Society of Olympic collectors, and has
written a book on the 1908 Olympics.
There was one official poster stamp created for the 1908 Games.
Click on image below to open an enlarged version in a separate
Click on the DuBois number beneath the image to display technical data about
Official poster stamp for the 1908 Olympic Games in London
#1908-1 to 8
"BRITISH OLYMPIC COMMITTEE / FRANCO-BRITISH EXHIBITION / LONDON / 1908"
in upper portion of label; "EXPOSITION FRANCO-ANQLAISE"
below, beneath central vignette-portion.
Vignette: a crown at upper left, RF at upper right; head of
Edward VII, to left, with word "INDUSTRIES" below; head of
Marianne, to right, with words "SCIENCE-ARTS" below; hands
of Britain and France reaching out toward each other (two
allegorical ladies), with London in the background, centrally
located; two columnar statues at left and right sides, crossed
palms below them.
52x28mm, perf 11 (imperforate proofs exist)
8. dark brown
4/11/16 - French collector Philippe Pavard provided these images of all
eight colors, both perf and imperf, plus the image of a related overprint
on one of the other FBE stamps.
Generic FBE stamp with overprint
FRANCO-BRITISH EXHIBITION - LONDON 1908
THE GYMNASTIC AND ATHLETIC OUTFITTERS
There was no scarcity of
poster stamps and labels created for the Franco-British Exhibition.
But perhaps emphasizing how disdainfully the Games were treated is the fact
that the stamp for the Games was printed setenant with labels for several
rather minor French exhibitions of 1908, as shown by these images -
A Swedish Matchbox Label:
9. "OLYMPIAN MATCH" at upper left; "MADE IN SWEDEN" at lower left.
Vignette: an athlete about to throw a Javelin, a stadium
in the background with the flag of Sweden flying and other
flags below. 55.5x32mm, multicolored, texts & athlete's suit are red
Label 1908-9 belongs on the 1912 page, the Stockholm Olympics of 1912,
so I have added it there.
Why DuBois listed this as a 1908 label I cannot say -
perhaps he was relying on an older catalog, and did not think to question it.
The stadium pictured is clearly the Stockholm Olympic Stadium,
built specifically for the 1912 Games, and opened in 1912.
But DuBois didn't have the www and Google to help him, did he?
VIEW THE 1912 PAGE
Thanks to French collector Philippe Pavard for pointing out this
What they said about it
Finally, I enjoyed the following contemporary comments about these Games
in a publication called "The Franco-British Exhibition -
Illustrated Review - 1908" - available on the
Somewhat mysterious - more about controversies during the 1908 Games
Turning to the lighter side we find again the note of novelty prevailing.
The principal features were, of course, the great Stadium and the Olympic
Games, both entirely new to the British public. The Stadium is truly a
great structure, on the heroic scale ; too great, indeed, to serve the
purpose of a single season only ; it is surely a permanent possession.
The games excited the utmost popular interest and drew vast crowds.
It is unfortunate that they were the occasion of incidents, which left
a disagreeable taste in the mouth and raised doubts whether international
unity is really promoted by such contests. It is certain that if competitors
carry their own rules about with them and cannot stand being beaten the
result is more likely to be enmity. But the Exhibition was in no wise to
blame for that.
The other amusements formed a standing attraction which seemed to be
appreciated to the utmost. They were all selected on the principle of
being entirely new to London. One of them, the great Flip-Flap, is
absolutely new ; it was the invention of Mr. Kiralfy, the inspiration
of a happy moment, and was constructed for the occasion. After some
initial difficulties it had a triumphant career. Not less the Scenic
Railway and the Canadian toboggan. I confess to being a little hazy
about these great devices, never having had time to take a turn on
them m'self, but whenever one passed near them they were always crowded
with passengers, and the noise they made was incessant and terrific.
There were no postage stamps issued for the 1908 Games.
There were no winter games in 1908.