Awards and trophies have been used to mark outstanding victories since the ancient times. The English word trophy itself was derived from the French trophée in 1513, "a spoil or prize of war", from Latin trophaeum meaning 'monument to victory'.
In ancient Greece, trophies themselves 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. These were often inscribed with a story of the battle and dedicated to various gods. Trophies made for 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 and an unforgivable crime.
The ancient Romans however kept their trophies much closer to home. They built magnificent trophies in Rome, including columns and arches atop great foundations. Unfortunately most of the stone trophies that once adorned huge stone memorials in Rome have been long since stolen.
Moving on to the Middle Ages, chalices were often given to winners of sporting events at least as early as the very late 1600s. 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, and numerous World Cups are all now famous cup-shaped trophies given to sports winners.
Today, trophies are much less expensive, and thus much more pervasive, thanks to mass-produced plastic trophies. If you're looking for quality however, there are many specialist companies that deal with creating an extensive range of crystal awards and glass trophies, bespoke awards, desk items, key rings, paperweights, and promotional gifts.
Trophies can take the shape of two-handled cups, bowls, or mugs (all usually engraved); statues of people, animals, and architecture while displaying words, numbers or images. Many different styles are available, and it is completely up to the customer which style and design they prefer for their ceremony. Styles include the dome tower, steeple, tapered portrait, cube and monochrome.