PNG images: Trophy

A trophy is a tangible, durable reminder of a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit. Trophies are often awarded for sporting events, from youth sports to professional level athletics. In many sports medals (or, in North America, rings) are often given out either as the trophy or along with more traditional trophies.

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Trophies have marked victories since ancient times. The word trophy, coined in English in 1550, was derived from the French trophée in 1513, "a prize of war", from Old French trophee, from Latin trophaeum, monument to victory, variant of tropaeum, which in turn is the latinisation of the Greek τρόπαιον (tropaion), the neuter of τροπαῖος (tropaios), "of defeat" or "for defeat", but generally "of a turning" or "of a change", from τροπή (tropē), "a turn, a change" and that from the verb τρέπω (trepo), "to turn, to alter".

In ancient Greece, trophies were made on the battlefields of victorious battles, from captured arms and standards, and were hung upon a tree or a large stake made to resemble a warrior. Often, these ancient trophies were inscribed with a story of the battle and were dedicated to various gods. Trophies made about naval victories sometimes consisted of entire ships (or what remained of them) laid out on the beach. To destroy a trophy was considered a sacrilege.

The ancient Romans kept their trophies closer to home. The Romans built magnificent trophies in Rome, including columns and arches atop a foundation. Most of the stone trophies that once adorned huge stone memorials in Rome have been long since stolen.

In ancient Greece, the winners of the Olympic games initially received no trophies except laurel wreaths. Later the winner also received an amphora with sacred olive oil. In local games, the winners received different trophies, such as a tripod vase, a bronze shield or a silver cup.

Chalices were given to winners of sporting events at least as early as the very late 1600s in the New World. For example, the Kyp Cup (made by silversmith Jesse Kyp), a small, two-handled, sterling cup in the Henry Ford Museum, was given to the winner of a horse race between two towns in New England in about 1699. Chalices, particularly, are associated with sporting events, and were traditionally made in silver. Winners of horse races, and later boating and early automobile races, were the typical recipients of these trophies. The Davis Cup, Stanley Cup, America's Cup and numerous World Cups are all now famous cup-shaped trophies given to sports winners.

Today, the most common trophies are much less expensive, and thus much more pervasive, thanks to mass-produced plastic/resin trophies.

The oldest sports trophies in the world are the Carlisle Bells, a horse racing trophy dating back to 1559 and 1599 and were first awarded by Elizabeth I. The race has been run for over 400 years in Carlisle, Cumbria, United Kingdom. The bells are on show at the local museum, Tullie House, which houses a variety of historic artifacts from the area from roman legions to present day.

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