Page last updated at 20:45 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 21:45 UK

London 1948 Olympic torch on sale

The 1948 Olympic torch
The 1948 torch - a souvenir of the last time the Games were held in the UK

An Olympic torch, said to be from the post-war 1948 games in London, is being sold on an internet auction site.

The seller is from Greece and lives near to the birthplace of the modern games, Athens.

The man, who calls himself Artoneli, said he bought the torch 20 years ago from an old man who lived nearby.

He is trying to raise about £7,500 and insists the torch is genuine. He is also selling a torch said to be from the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia.

"It is genuine," said Artoneli, who speaks only a little English.

"I have kept it at home for 20 years and now I am selling it in time for the next Olympics in London."

Many made

On his website he describes it as "100% genuine" and "very rare".

Some 1,720 torches were made for the 1948 London Games, and a similar number for subsequent games.

The Olympic flame is lit at Olympia in Greece, where ancient games were staged, then carried in a relay across the world to the host city.

The torches carrying the flame are passed between athletes. When individual torches burn out, their bearers are sometimes allowed to keep them.

In 1948, 20 torches were used between Dover and Wembley.

A few have turned up for auction in the UK in recent times.

A spokesman for London 2012, the body coordinating the London games, described the eBay auction as "interesting".

He said his organisation did not have one of the 1948 torches, but some of the sponsors probably possessed the cherished memento.

"I don't think we will be bidding for it," he said. "We have to keep a close eye on expenditure."

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