A trophy is a token of success, a badge of honor, and a way of celebrating victories, big or small. Often made of precious metals such as gold or silver, and emblazoned with the recipient’s name or achievement, a trophy can come in many different shapes, sizes, and designs.
As ubiquitous and synonymous with winning as they are today, there was a time before giving trophies to winners of awards or events was the norm. Which begs the question: how did this tradition begin? This article will look at the history of trophies. From when and how they first came into fashion to why they became as popular as they are today.
From Ancient Times
To discover the origin of trophies, we must travel back in time to ancient Greece. Here, trophies were awarded to those who triumphed against adversaries.
In fact, the word trophy is actually derived from the Greek word tropaion. This was a monument erected in commemoration of victories in battles or wars.
Quite different from the trophies we know today, these large monuments took the form of stakes and crosses adorned with enemy armor. They were normally set up on the sites where battles took place and dedicated to different gods.
The ancient Romans also had similar types of trophies, which would instead be erected close to towns and cities and took the form of arches and columns.
Through the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, chalices made of metal were awarded to winners of sporting events such as horse races. The first recorded example of a chalice awarded was in the late 1600s.
These sports trophies, which sometimes included a handle on either side, more closely resemble some of the types of trophies popular today. One of the most obvious examples being the Stanley Cup.
To Present Day
Today, while many trophies and awards do conform to traditional design, there are endless different examples of creative and interesting trophy types. From the Golden Globes award to the famous MTV Spaceman and the Hugo science fiction award’s shining rocket ship, when it comes to the design of today’s trophies, the sky’s the limit.
An abundance of new materials from which to create trophies also helps in their popularity. Now made out of everything from wood to plastic and resin, it’s possible and even popular to create custom trophies for even the smallest of special events. Companies—such as Trophyman— that offer custom trophies in an array of shapes, sizes, and materials have only furthered the ubiquity of this tradition.
From the History of Trophies to the Future
Trophies have come a long way since they first came into popular use. They’ve changed both in the form they take and the achievements they celebrate. Now, trophies are much more likely to be given in an array of situations—from school sports days to office award ceremonies— than ever before.
From the history of trophies to their modern-day usage, we can see that trends are constantly changing. When it comes to the design of trophies today, there are endless possibilities.