How Trophies Have Changed Over Time

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A trophy is a type of award given to a person for a specific thing. You might remember getting small trophies in school during field days and other events where you did better than your peers. Many schools still hand out trophies and ribbons to students today. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a major organization that hands out awards to the top actors and film workers every year, which you might know as the Oscar trophies. Though trophies may seem like a modern invention, they have a long history that dates back to ancient times.

Original Trophies

Both the Greeks and Romans used trophies during ancient times. Romans were fond of large columns made from stone that showed the accomplishments of others. The Greeks would often create trophies after battles. They used the armor and supplies of fallen soldiers to create their memorials. Some of these trophies looked like large warriors and used metals that were so durable that they still stand today. Early trophies also included those handed out to Olympic athletes. They received small trophies made from woven olive branches that helped them stand out from their competitors.

Middle Ages

Have you ever seen a chalice presented to the winners of a tournament? This type of award dates back to the Middle Ages. During this time period, competitors took part in large games where they tried to win over other athletes. To recognize the winners, those in charge of the events gave them chalices. Chalices remained a popular trophy type up through the 17th century, when the design changed slightly. The chalice became much larger and designed for winners to hold in both of their hands. Both the Davis Cup and the Stanley Cup are two modern examples of chalice awards still used today.


Another example of trophies found in past years is tokens. Instead of giving an award, a person received a token that showed they took part in an event. A good example is a token given to Spanish bullfighters. When they took down a bull, they would often receive one or both of the bull’s ears. They could dry them out and keep them as souvenirs. Challenge coins are a good modern-day example of a token. You might win a challenge coin when you complete a marathon or serve a tour of duty in the military.

Glass Awards

Glass awards became more popular in the modern era as glass became more readily available. One of the top examples is the Clio Award, which started in 1959 as a way to honor the top minds in the advertising world. The award committee usually picks a few possible winners every year in each category and names gold, silver, and bronze winners, as well as a grand winner. Some of the popular fields and categories include health and beauty, film, and design. Glass awards often have a base made of metal or wood with the glass sitting on top.

Metal Trophies

Metal trophies are just as popular today as they were during ancient times. Olympic athletes now receive medals made from metal when they finish within the top three in their events. The Heisman Trophy goes to the top college football player in the United States every year, with many winners going on to have long careers in the NFL. Those who work in the entertainment industry have the chance to win a Golden Globe, which features a beautiful metal sculpture on top of a black base. You can draw inspiration from these and other popular metal trophies as you design custom plaques and awards.

Trophies are Eternal

One of the reasons so many people love winning trophies is that they are eternal. You might still have a box of small plastic, and metal awards you won in school tucked away in a closet in your home. Industry professionals have the chance to win elegant glass awards and other trophies that highlight their achievements and accomplishments every year. Though you might not think that awards today have much in common with those used in ancient times, they are quite similar. Trophies still award people for their work and give them a tangible item they can hold in their hands.

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