06 Mar The History of Awards and Trophies
Corporate awards might be something that has only sprung up in relatively recent times, but trophies and awards, in general, have been around for thousands of years. The most obvious example of instances where trophies have been an important part of human culture is the Olympic Games.
There is no doubt that, although the trophy which was awarded to winners of an Olympic games event was a laurel wreath, the esteem in which it was held was as great, or maybe even greater than, the gold medal awarded for the same events today. It is simply undeniable that awards and trophies which have been presented to winners throughout human history are a demonstration of the importance that individual or group recognition plays in the human psyche.
It is interesting to note the development in the types of trophies awarded to winners over time. As stated above, laurel wreaths were the first trophies ever awarded at the Olympic Games but as time passed awards of even greater significance began to become standard.
Vases filled with precious olive oil were presented to winners in the early days of the Olympic Games and even later, vases on tripods and bronze shields soon became the standard. Later again, silver cups were given as a sign of the prestige which individual achievements were held.
In ancient Roman times, the awards took on even greater significance when money replaced trophies, especially in gladiatorial contests. But the recognition of achievement was still maintained by way of perpetual trophies handed from winner to win with each passing event.
Even sporting events which were held in England in the Middle Ages rewarded winners with chalices made from precious metals. Archers would compete for prestigious events hosted by members of the royal family or local lords simply for the recognition it accorded them and the esteem in which they would be held by the local community. Indeed, it was not uncommon for the winners of these events to eventually achieve even greater standing with the award of land.
Symbolic gestures have become a common thread throughout human history and trophies have become a vital part, not just in Western culture but in many other countries around the world as well.
Ancient Chinese records show that superior achievements on the battlefield were rewarded with medals awarded by the Emperor and in the Mayan culture high achievements were publicly recognised in ceremonies designed specifically for the purpose.
Sporting achievements have also been a common thread in our history where trophies have been held in the highest esteem. Horse racing is synonymous with this and the history goes back to the 1600s in the Americas where a small silver cup, later to become known as the Kyp Cup, was awarded to the winner of a horse race between two towns in New England.
As time passes many things change and the values in our lives ebb and flow with the course of human history, but one thing is certain. Trophies will continue to play their part in the recognition of human achievements whether it be in the corporate sphere or on the sports field.