Trophies and medals have been used to reward sporting success for centuries and some of the most prestigious awards presented today are antiques now.
It’s difficult to assess which trophy is the oldest in the world, as it depends on what criteria you use. Some tournaments have used many different awards over the years, while other historic pieces of silverware are kept safely stored away while their winners receive replicas.
So which trophies can lay claim to being amongst the oldest in the world? Here are just a few of the top contenders.
The Antient Scorton Silver Arrow
Unless you’re a keen archery fan, you’ll probably never have heard of the Antient Scorton Silver Arrow Competition, but organisers claim that it’s the world’s longest-running recorded sports tournament.
The origins of the trophy itself, a silver arrow, are lost in history, but the first tournament took place on May 14 1673 in the village of Scorton, in North Yorkshire. Henry Calverley MP, from Eryholme on Tees, both provided the trophy and won the inaugural event.
The victor – known as the Captain of the Arrow – takes home a replica of the trophy, which is usually kept at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. Many other trophies and medals are presented at the event too, including an 1834 Silver Bugle for the Lieutenant of the Target (the first archer to pierce the red from a distance of 100 yards).
The Musselburgh Old Club Cup
First presented in 1774, the Old Club Cup, also known as the Musselburgh Silver Cup, is awarded to the player who gets the lowest scratch score at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club’s autumn meeting each year. Believed to be the oldest golf cup still competed for today, it was donated to the club by its members and its first winner was Thomas Macmillan of Shorthope.
This cup is certainly one of the most impressive-looking golf trophies around, featuring engraved medallions on its lid and base, as well as a striking thistle detail on the top.
The America’s Cup
Nicknamed ‘The Auld Mug’ by sailing fans, the America’s Cup trophy is awarded to the winners of yachting’s most famous competition, which is also one of the oldest sporting events in the world.
Initially called the RYS £100 Cup, the trophy was renamed after the winner of the 1851 event, the schooner, “America”. It was a donation to the Royal Yacht Squadron from the First Marquess of Anglesey, Field Marshal Henry William Paget, who intended it to be used for the club’s 1851 Annual Regatta race around the Isle of Wight.
Made by Garrad & Co of London in 1848, it was an off-the-shelf, sterling silver ewer. Originally bottomless, it’s had two new bases added to it over the years, so that the names of the winning yachts could be engraved on it.
The Claret Jug
Presented to the winners of the Open Championship, this golfing trophy was manufactured by Edinburgh-based Mackay Cunningham and Company. Officially known as the Golf Champion Trophy, it was designed to replace the original Challenge Belt, which was given to Tom Morris Junior to keep when he won his third consecutive title in 1870.
There was no tournament the following year but the new trophy had not been completed by the 1872 event so, although the name of the winner, Tom Morris Junior once again, was added to the Claret Jug when it was finished, he was presented with a medal. The first golfer to actually receive the Golf Champion Trophy was Tom Kidd, in 1873.
The original Claret Jug was placed on display at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews, in 1928 and all winners since have received a replica.
More on The Claret Jug can be found here.
The Scottish Cup
Officially recognised as being the oldest trophy in association football and the world’s oldest national football trophy by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011, the Scottish Cup – or, to give it its formal name, the Scottish Association Challenge Cup – was first presented to the tournament winners in 1874.
Made by Glaswegian silversmiths, George Edward and Sons, this 50cm tall cup was crafted from solid silver and weighs 2.25kg. It’s usually kept on display at the Scottish Football Museum in Glasgow’s Hampden Park.
Which do you consider to be the world’s oldest sports award? Have you been to see any historic sporting trophies? We’d love to hear from you below.