Trophies have been a way to reward and commemorate victories throughout the history of mankind. The word trophy derives from the Latin word trophaeum which means a monument dedicated to a victory.
Back in ancient Greece, after a victorious battle, soldiers would gather the captured arms, standards and other more gruesome spoils to hang on a tree or stake so that it resembled a warrior. It was common to have details of the battle inscribed on the monument and they would honour the gods they worshipped. Throughout time the idea of taking a trophy from your enemy has been a way of proving your victory and supremacy to those around you.
Trophies were later used as rewards for sporting prowess in the Olympic games, there would be laurel wreaths and then later amphora’s containing sacred olive oil, bronze shields and silver cups, although the latter were mostly in local games. When the modern Olympics were formed in 1896 first place would be awarded a silver medal, this was because silver was a more precious metal at this time.
Trophies in the form of medals are also used to recognise war heroes in the UK and the rest of the world, most notable the Victoria Cross and the George cross. You will often see highly decorated war veterans on d day showing how brave and valiant they have been with the medals on their chest glinting in the sun.
In the modern world trophies are now widely produced and used to reward not only sports people and war heroes but also school children for academic success, actors for their roles in movies, exceptional writers, artists and maybe one of the most important award in our time the Nobel peace prize.
In the 19th century it became very popular to reward winners of sporting events grand and expensive trophies, many of these were manufactured in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter. One of the most recognised would be the Wimbledon ladies and men’s single trophies. Birmingham is home to some of the best gold and silversmiths in the UK and it is no surprise that we have manufactured some of the most prestigious and exquisite trophies around.
Some famous trophies you may recognise!
Golf – The Ryder Cup, Claret Jug
Football – FIFA World Cup Trophy, Copa Liberatadores, the FA Cup, European Champions Cup
Sailing – America’s Cup
Cricket – The Ashes, Cricket World Cup Trophy
Tennis – Wimbledon Tennis Trophies
Motorsport – Borg Warner Trophy, Harley J Earl Trophy
Film, TV & Theatre – Academy Award, Golden Globes, Tony Award, Emmy Award
We would welcome your thoughts on the best trophy in the world, let us know below!