How to make a new trophy seem timeless

January 2, 2020

How to make a new trophy seem timeless

Often times the team at Malcolm DeMille has been requested to make a new trophy that seems old. While on the surface it seems like a paradox, it is true that modern trophies and classic trophies have very different design characteristics. A large degree of what makes a trophy seem timeless comes down to design choices we can utilize when generating a brand new trophy. Here are a few ideas to help your design process when making a new retro trophy.

Explain the Award on the Award

This is something that has been lost to time. In older trophies the circumstances to win the award are very clear, verbiage such as “To Be Challenged For” or “Championship to be Played for Annually” show up frequently on turn of the century awards.Anyone reading the award knows exactly how it was won and how they could win it if they wanted to. It is in our culture now to know what it means to have a name on the award but “Awarded To” is a great example of how to make a trophy or medal seem vintage.

This works especially great if the award was sponsored by one major benefactor as you can preclude the instructions with “Award Presented by:” The tone makes the prize seem much more formal than a normal run of the mill trophy.

Western Amateur Trophy


Name the Award

Many times when an event enters the calendar the organizers rush when it comes to the trophy. For example an event may end up being named the “Member-Member Classic” and the trophy ends up being called the “Member-Member Classic Trophy.” These names are great for the organizers and players who are already dedicated to the event locally as they know all about the event but it is hardly unique and doesn’t endow much personality into the event or trophy.

Most major trophies have a name that isn’t related to the name of the event they are presented for. Developing a new name for the trophy give flavor to an event and can deeply honor a member of the community at no extra cost. The NHL Finals has the Stanley Cup, World Series has the Commissioner’s Trophy, the Super Bowl has the Lombardi Trophy, and the NBA Finals has the Larry O’Brien Trophy for instance. Even the Rooster Trophy at the Sanderson Farms Championship has a name, Reveille.

Sanderson Farms Championship Trophy, Reveille, and President-COO

Sanderson Farms Championship Trophy named Reveille


No need to overthink naming conventions, simply find a major benefactor or organizer in your organization. If it is hard to find someone fitting in immediate circles around the organization use local history or piece of culture. We are based on the Central Coast of California and many would think there isn’t a lot to name a trophy after due to our rural population. However even around here we have local flavor such as Morro Rock, Los Padres National Forest, and some California Missions. Just using these sources we have some great trophy names such as “The Rock”, Los Padres Cup, or the Junipero Serra Trophy (named after the founder of the missions). We didn’t need to dig too far and we have three names more meaningful for the trophy than “Member-Member Classic Award.”



Use Classic Imagery
The devil is in the details when it comes to classic awards. Awards in the late 1800s and early 1900s used imagery that called out to the meaning behind the presentation. Often times the negative space would be filled in with symbols representing where the event was held.Much of the imagery is decked in classical themes going back to the old world such as roses representing England and thistles for Scotland.

There is a through line to the New World though; in the United States for example every single state has a list of state symbols. Have an event based in California? Try the filling negative space with golden poppies, the state flower. What about Chicago? Try having the city flag represented somewhere. New York is often represented by apples. Texas can be represented by the Paluxysaurus Jonesi, the state dinosaur, or Longhorn Cattle and boots for a more traditional approach.

Often filigree would reach out to more classical imagery such as angels, laurels and wreaths which all give an elegant tone that reach to a higher level. While angels representing victory are common and still held in high regard the plump child angels, known as cherubs, have fallen far out of favor in modern times.

Aloha Cup Details


The point of most modern style trophies is to hit one note hard like a single scoop of well-made ice cream. Classic trophies when held up in comparison frequently resemble the full sundae, with stories and meaning being held on every inch.

If you are looking to build a new trophy our craftsmen are well versed in a wide range of styles and are ready to help make a trophy that will fit your event. Feel free to reach out info@mdemille.com

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