The Stanley Cup, a championship trophy taken home by winners of the annual National Hockey League playoffs, is arguably the most prolific trophy in the world of sports. Ask an ardent hockey fan how much the Stanley Cup is worth and they would undoubtedly say it is priceless. More than its value in money is the legacy surrounding it, transforming it into an iconic symbol of sports history. Players who have not earned it cannot even so much as touch the revered trophy, and even those who do, cannot keep it for more than a year. One has to understand The Stanley Cup's storied existence and value its place within the pages of the history books to be able to appreciate its real worth.
When it was first commissioned in the year 1892, the Stanley Cup was known as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup. It was later renamed the Stanley Cup, after former Governor General Lord Stanley of Preston who commissioned the trophy and awarded it to the best amateur ice hockey club in Canada. It was in the year 1915 that teams belonging to two professional organizations - namely the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association – started competing for the cup. Over the years, different teams have battled it out to take home the greatest prize in hockey – a staggering 95 times. The Stanley Cup is also known as the Holy Grail of hockey. Today there are three versions of the Stanley Cup: the original trophy used in the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, the presentation cup and the replica found at the Hall of Fame.
Besides a long and illustrious history, the Stanley Cup also has some interesting legends and traditions attached to it. One such famous tradition involves the members of the winning team taking swigs of champagne out of it, as a mark of celebration.
The original cup, made of pure silver, was 7.28-inches high and had a diameter of 11.42 inches. The present Stanley Cup trophy, which has the original Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup fixed atop, is made from a mix of silver and nickel. The trophy stands much taller than the original at 35.25 inches and weighs a hefty 34 pounds.
In terms of its design the current version of the Stanley Cup is a far cry from the original Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup commission by Lord Stanley in 1892. Though the actual cup remains the focal point in the trophy’s design, it today stands as a bigger and more imposing version of its old self. While the original cup was merely seven inches high, the present version stands three feet above the ground. Each year a new ring-shaped tier, with names of every member of the winning team engraved on it, is added to the trophy. The tiers added over the years have lent it a towering stature, making it one of the most grand and impressive sporting trophies ever created. It's also cool to drink out of.
When the Stanley Cup was first commissioned it cost a handsome $48.67 (10 guineas), which amounts to a little over $1,200 in 2013 dollars. However, if the cup was to be remade today the cost would be way more than a meagre $1,200. The cup contains 460 ounces of silver, the current price of an ounce of silver being around $23. Therefore, if the Stanley Cup were to be commissioned today, the cost would be somewhere around $11,000 – an approximate tenfold increase from its original fabrication cost.
Just like the Stanley Cup is considered the Holy Grail by hockey players and fans alike, every sport has its own share of similarly revered trophies and cups. Though much of the value attached to these trophies stems from their prestige which increases with every team that takes them home at the end of the year, their worth in dollars is equally striking. Here is a look at three of the most expensive sports trophies other than the Stanley Cup:
The famous football trophy awarded to NFL champions was commissioned in honour of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi. This nearly two-foot tall trophy crafted out of sterling-silver by none other than Tiffany and Co. is estimated to cost $50,000 to make. It takes 72 man-hours spread over four months to complete this kick-ready football shaped trophy that is handed over to NFL winners every year. It has the NFL shield and the words 'Vince Lombardi Trophy' engraved at the base. The trophy is handed over to the year’s champions at the end of the playoffs, before being sent back to Tiffany’s where the name of the winning team, the date and the final Super Bowl score are engraved on it. The winning team gets to keep this seven-pound heavy token of pride and smaller replicas are crafter for each player on the winning team. Unlike with the Stanley Cup, NFL teams can collect these trophies every time they win the Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won the Super Bowl six times, making them the holders of the most Lombardi Trophies in the league.
The aptly-named Commissioner's Trophy, awarded to the winners of the MLB World Series Championship, remains one of the most famed trophies in the sporting world. Though the World Series has been going on since 1903, the World Series Trophy was not commissioned and handed over to the winners until as late as 1967. The original design underwent some tweaking in 1999 and emerged as the design we know today. The two-foot tall trophy comprises 30 gold plated flags – each representing a famous Major League team – which are attached to a baseball made out of pure silver with 24-karat vermeil stitches and weighing a whopping 30 pounds. Designed by Tiffany, the trophy’s current worth in terms of materials and craftsmanship has been placed at $15,000. The Commissioner's Trophy is the only one of the four major sports trophies in the United States to not hold the name of a particular person.
With hockey, football, and baseball having their own illustrious trophies to boast of, could basketball be far behind? The NBA Trophy is named after one of the most famous names in the world of basketball, Larry O’Brien, who headed the basketball league for eight years between 1975 and 1983. The Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy is made of silver and is also a Tiffany production. Designed in 1984, the trophy boasts of a 24-karat gold cover and weighs nearly 14.5 pounds. The trophy which portrays a nine-inch basketball passing through a ring stands two feet above the ground. Like the World Series and Super Bowl Trophies, the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy is remade every year and presented to the winning team to keep.