1894 - Modern Games Founded
1896 - I Olympiad - Athens
1900 - II Olympiad - Paris
      - Vignettes of the 1900 Paris Expo
1904 - III Olympiad - St. Louis
1906 - Intercalated Games - Athens
1908 - IV Olympiad - London
1912 - V Olympiad - Stockholm
1913 - Berlin prepares for 1916 games
1914 - 20th Anniversary of Rebirth of Games
1916 - VI Olympiad - Berlin
1920 - VII Olympiad - Antwerp
1924 - VIII Olympiad - Paris
      - Post Cards
1928 - IX Olympiad - Amsterdam
1932 - X Olympiad - Los Angeles
1936 - XI Olympiad - Berlin
1940 - XII Olympiad - Tokyo
      - XII Olympiad - Helsinki
      - New Zealand Centennial Games
1944 - XIII Olympiad - London
      - German POW Games
1948 - XIV Olympiad - London
1952 - XV Olympiad - Helsinki
1956 - XVI Olympiad - Melbourne
      - XVI Olympiad - Stockholm
1960 - XVII Olympiad - Rome

1908 - IV Olympiad - London

Apr. 27-Oct. 31


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

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 in situ.

3/10/16 - Collector Steve Payne of Fleckney, England, sent me these images of that postcard

  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 Wilcock, who is a senior member of the
Society of Olympic collectors, and has
written a book on the 1908 Olympics.

2/22/19 - Steve is correct, the collector responsible for that discovery is Bob Wilcock, who wrote about it in the Journal of Olympic History, July 2008 - You can read his article HERE.

And YES, Bob has written an excellent book about these Games, which is available from him - CLICK HERE to download information about how to order your copy. I bought one, and it's pure eye-candy for any Olympic collector - tons of color reproductions of all areas of collecting, and extensive text based on Bob's in-depth study of the topic.





1964 - XVIII Olympiad - Tokyo
1968 - XIX Olympiad - Mexico City
1972 - XX Olympiad - Munich

1924 - I Winter Games - Chamonix
1928 - II Winter Games - St Moritz
1932 - III Winter Games - Lake Placid
1936 - IV Winter Games - Garmisch-Partenkirchen
1940 - V Winter Games - Sapporo
      - V Winter Games - St Moritz
      - V Winter Games - Garmisch-Partenkirchen
1944 - V Winter Games - Cortina d'Ampezzo
1948 - V Winter Games - St Moritz
1952 - VI Winter Games - Oslo
1956 - VII Winter Games - Cortina d'Ampezzo
1960 - VIII Winter Games - Squaw Valley
1964 - IX Winter Games - Innsbruck
1968 - X Winter Games - Grenoble
1972 - XI Winter Games - Sapporo

      - Workers' Olympics

There was one UN-official poster stamp created for the 1908 Games.
As Bob Wilcock explains in his incomparable book, this was a privately printed product.
There was no such organization as the British Olympic Committee at this time -
"the British Olympic Association formed the British Olympic Council to organise the 1908 Games."

Click on image below to open an enlarged version in a separate window/tab
Click on the DuBois number beneath the image to display technical data about that label.

Poster stamp for the 1908 Olympic Games in London
#1908-1 to 8

DuBois listing:

"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)

1. sky-blue
2. slate-blue
3. yellow-green
4. orange
5. rernilion
6. carmine
7. red-brown
8. dark brown
.....all rare

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
51x32mm overall

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 -


That third image is from Bob Wilcock's book, and shows an entire sheet of all the vignettes - an amazing find!
So presumably the firm that printed and distributed all those labels took it upon itself to create this souvenir.

February 12, 2023
German watch ad circa 1908, Olympic theme?


This attractive sports-themed poster stamp sold on eBay on 3/15/22 for $6.
There is nothing other than the sports theme to connect it to the Olympics, but I like it, so chose to display it here.
I estimate the date as circa 1908, based on the costumes.

July 4, 2018 - Happy Independence Day!

Today Philippe Pavard of Paris - a major contributor to these pages - pointed out an eBay auction offering the item below, which the seller called "France GB 1908 london Olympic black vignette proof unused block 6."


That's quite a stretch, as the stamp had nothing to do with the Olympics - it was issued to promote a horse show in Paris in 1907. Nor has it anything to do with Great Britain, unless Paris was in England in 1907. I don't think so.

Here are four examples of the stamp as it was printed and distributed:

However, its design IS based quite closely on this Greek Olympic postage stamp of 1896:

They are so similar that I thought at first they might have been printed from the same dies, but on closer examination I see differences.

One can see as well that the 1908 BOC cinderella was also based on that 1896 Greek stamp, though somewhat crudely - the figures on the sides are squat and angry-looking, and no longer nude - Victorian prudishness.

So I think the eBay seller had all of that in mind when he wrote his item's description. Whether one should include that 1907 label in a collection of Olympic poster stamps is a matter of personal choice.


Matchbox label

DuBois Listing:

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 ...................... Rare

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?


Thanks to French collector Philippe Pavard for pointing out this error.


This has nothing to do with poster stamps - the topic of these pages - but I found the image amusing.

Postcard showing

That must have been quite a flood!

The strange contraption at far left that looks like a giant building crane was one of the attractions of the amusement area of the Exhibition, it raised groups of spectators into the air for a birds-eye view of the area. It was called The Flip-Flap, and was quite popular. Here's a better view:

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 Internet Archive.

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.

Somewhat mysterious - more about controversies during the 1908 Games HERE, HERE, and HERE.

There were no postage stamps issued for the 1908 Games.

There were no winter games in 1908.


I am indebted to Robert J DuBois for allowing me to use images and information from his Catalog of Olympic Labels on these web pages.

All text and images are the property of the author. Any errors are his.
REWARD! If you have better or additional information about anything shown or discussed here, please email the author.
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All text Copyright © 2013, William M. Senkus

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Created -- 07/27/2013
Revised -- 02/12/2023