11 Most Iconic Awards and Prizes

Posted on May 27, 2020

While we are in the business of iconic awards and we think all of our designs are showstoppers, there are several that stand out. You recognize them, you know them, you see on the television. Here, we will dive into the 11 most iconic awards and describe a little bit about how they’re made and just what makes them so iconic.  

Pulitzer Prize  

The Pulitzer Prize is probably the most prestigious award in the world. This prize is awarded for excellence in newspaper journalism, literary achievements, and musical compositionFirst awarded in 1917 andto date, they are awarded yearly in twenty-one different categories along with a cash prize. The only instance without a cash prize is the public service category (because the modern-day mother Theresa’s are too pure to accept cash prizes!) Instead, you become the proud owner of the prestigious gold medal. Some of those categories include breaking news reporting, investigative reporting, editorial writing, and feature photography. For a full list, see here.

The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal is awarded, as mentioned above, each year to the American news organization that wins the Public Service category. This medal, which sits at two-and three-quarter inches in diameter and a quarter-inch thick, was designed by a sculptor named Daniel Chester French. At a glance, one side of the medal showcases Benjamin Franklins profile with the name of the winning news organization, and on the other side, we see a man working on a printer. On the side with the printer, it reads: “For disinterested and meritorious public service rendered by an American newspaper during the year…” 

Fun fact: the coin is in fact not made of solid gold. It is silver with a 24-carat gold plate. This prestigious award also comes in a cherry-wood box with brass hardware. How fancy!  

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Image Source: pulitzer.org

Academy Awards

Next up, are the Academy Awards. More popularly known as the Oscars. Everyone can recognize the gold man standing upright on a base and the glitz and glam of the ceremony. The Oscars are annual awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industryThese awards are an all-around international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements voted on and hosted by the Academy (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Said Academy first presented the Oscar in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The Academy Awards are also known as the oldest of the four major annual American entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) 

This piece was officially called the Academy Award of Merit, but now just commonly referred to as an Oscar. The award itself depicts a knight rendered in an Art Deco style. When looking at the award, you’ll see the knight holding a crusaders sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. These five separate spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians. This award was sculpted by George Stanley from a sketch created by Cedric Gibbons. Said statue is made of gold-plated bronze and sits on a black metal base and measures at 13.5 inches tall. The Oscar also weighs 8.5 pounds.  

Fun fact: to prevent giving away who won the category ahead of the ceremony, the Oscar statuettes presented at the actual ceremony have blank plates on them. Up until 2019, winners would have to send back the Oscars and wait a few weeks to have it engraved with their name. Since then, they now have the option of having name templates engraved at the Governor’s Ball (a party held after the ceremony).

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Image Source: The Verge

Grammy Awards

The famous Grammy Award is up next on our list. The first Grammy Award ceremony was held in 1959 to honor and respect those in the music industry from the year prior. This award is presented by the Recording Academy to recognize achievements in aspects of the music industry. Thaward show is probably one of the more fun ones to watch as it includes many performances from prominent artists. Not only do we get to watch incredible performances, but we get to see the recipients receiving the awards from other notable artists. And the outfits are quite showstoppingWe’re looking at you JLo circa 2000 in that green deep V Versace dress.  

The Grammy, originally named the Gramophone Award, depicts a gilded gramophone. In 1990, they got a bit of a facelift: they changed the traditional soft lead for a stronger alloy which would be less susceptible to any damage. This made the Grammy bigger and better! The specific zinc alloy, named grammium, is trademarked. The award is also plated with gold. Just as the Academy Awards, the recipients are given “stunt” trophies that are reused every year. After the ceremony, they are provided with their engraved name plated Grammy’s.

Fun fact: here’s a list of people who have received the most Grammy’s.  

  • George Solti, 31 awards  
  • Quincy Jones, 28 awards  
  • Alison Krauss, 27 awards  
  • Pierre Boulez, 26 awards  
  • Vladimir Horoqitz, 25 awards  
  • John Williams, 25 awards  
  • Beyonce, 24 awards  
  • Chick Corea, 23 awards  
  • Jay-Z, 22 awards  
  • Stevie Wonder, 22 awards 
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Image Source: Variety.com

Nobel Prize

This one goes out to the smarty pants of the world… the recipients probably don’t use the term “smarty pants,” but we’ll keep going! The Nobel Prizes (6 given out yearly) are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement. The first distribution of prizes was given out back in 1901. Swedish inventor and industrialist, Alfred Nobel drafted in his will in 1895, that most of his fortune should be left for funding the annual five prizes to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” The prizes he lined out in his will are as follows: Nobel Prize for Physics, Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Nobel Prize for Peace (after 1968, the sixth was added: the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel).  

The first awards were designed by Swedish sculptor and engraver, Erik Lindberg, in 1902 (one year after the first prizes. Turns out, the designs hadn’t been finalized by the first round). All medals have a difference in design, but all have a gold medal bearing the image of the testator and an inscription. The first side dons the portrait of Alfred Nobel and the images on the flip side all vary according to the respective prize-awarding institutions. Up until 1980, the awards weighed approximately 200 grams and made of 23-carat gold. Since then, they moved over to 18-carat recycled gold and now varies between 175g-185 g. 

Fun fact: a few notable honorees you might recognize include Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., T.S. Elliot, and Theodore Roosevelt.  

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Image Source: Princeton University

Golden Globes

Golden Globes are the awards given out by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. These awards and ceremonies started in the year 1944 to recognize excellence in film in both American and International, as well as international television. This ceremony is traditionally held every January and is a major part of the film industry’s award season. As of 2020, the HFPA had held its 77th Golden Globe Awards.

There are quite a few rules to qualify for the Golden Globes. Some of these include:  

  • Voice-overs or performances in which the actors play themselves are not eligible  
  • The film must be at least 70 minutes long 
  • The film must have been released for at least a seven-day run in the Greater Los Angeles area 

The statuette itself has had a few “facelifts” as I’m sure many of the recipients have as well! As of 2019, the Golden Globes were redesigned to be longer, leaner, and have a more golden color. The gold is achieved with a 24-carat gold-plated design. Redesigned to retain the heritage and history of the previous iconic Golden Globe with the wrapped filmstrip accolade, they enhanced with some modern touches. A few new elements of the redesign include its size and weight; now it sits at 11.5 inches tall with a new cylinder base rather than cuboid and weighs 7.8 pounds (used to be 2.3 pounds). 

Fun fact: Meryl Streep, the queen that she is, has the most nominations – 32. Streep also has 8 wins under her belt, also a record.  

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Image Source: CBC.ca

British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards 

Our friends on the other side of the pond, (unless you ARE on the other side of the pond), host an independent charity that supports, develops, and promotes film, television, and games, in the United Kingdom. More popularly, they are referred to as BAFTA. The BAFTA Film Awards are presented annually to honor the best British and international contributions to film.  Originally founded in 1947, BAFTA was started by a few producers who wanted to support the art forms of the moving image.  

Probably one of the more intricate designs on this list, the iconic BAFTA mask was designed in 1955 by US sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe. She originally modeled said mask in Plasticine, from which the casting molds were made. The hollow reverse of the mask bears an electronic symbol around one eye and a screen symbol around the other. Also included, is a revolving support to allow the mask to be turned and viewed from any side. The Academy is an independent charity with around 7,500 members including our favorite royal couple, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. 

Fun fact: Prince William currently serves as the BAFTA president.  

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Image Source: bafta.org

MTV Video Music Awards  

These awards are also popularly known as the Moon Man (now named the Moon Person) for its very recognizable spaceman design. The VMA’s are presented by MTV, a cable channel, to honor the best music videos. It was originally conceived as an alternative to the Grammys, listed above. The first VMA ceremony happened in 1984 in New York Citi’s Radio Music Hall. At this ceremony, some of the big winners are some of the legends of today: Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Cyndi Lauper, just to name a few. Year after year the VMA’s became quite a coveted award considering that it’s the actual fans who get to vote. They are also a place for some wild fashion choices… let us think back to Lady Gaga’s meat dress.  

The design inspiration for the award came from the fact that MTV felt they were “claiming uncharted territory” and something out of this world.  Hence, the spacesuit. To gain it’s shiny “out of this world” look, the designers use a nickel silver plating. Our moon person sits at 12 inches tall and weighs a whopping 16 pounds. 

Fun fact: a name you’ve already seen in this post: Beyoncé holds the most wins here, with 25 awards.  

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Image Source: cosmopolitan.com

Emmy Award

An Emmy Award, or simply an Emmy, is an American award that is presented for excellence in the television industry. The Emmy Award actually has various sectors within the television industries, but the ones that are most popular are the Primetime Emmy’s and the Daytime Emmy’s. Other notable Emmy events include national sports programming, national news, and documentary shows, technological and engineering achievements, as well the International Emmy Awards. The Los Angeles based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences established the Emmy Awards as an opportunity to build their image, for public relations opportunities. The first ceremony took place in 1949 at the Hollywood Athletic Club 

The Emmy came from the term, “immy.” An immy is an informal term for a camera tube that was common in television cameras. Design-wise, the award showcases a winged woman holding a large atom. Louis McManus, the designer of the award, was a television engineer who used his wife as a model… what an honor. He’s been quoted saying that the “wings represent the muse of art.” The Emmy weighs 6 pounds and is made of copper, nickel, silver, and gold with a 15.5-inch-tall statue. 

Fun fact: a ventriloquist won the first-ever Emmy award AND they charged $5 for entry. Sounds nice!  

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Image Source: latimes.com

Tony Award  

The Tony’s, formally known as the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. These awards are named after, you guessed it, Antoinette “Tony” Perry, co-founder of the American Theater Wing. They are presented by both the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League every year in Midtown Manhattan. The rules to win a Tony change every season. Mentioned above, we discussed the Emmy Awards, the Academy Awards (Oscars), and the Grammy. If having won all four categories, you are known as winning the EGOT. This prestigious honor is held by a short list of names. Notable names such as Audrey Hepburn, John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Whoopi Goldberg are in the small group of EGOT winners. 

The trophy consists of a medallion, with a face that portrays an adaptation of comedy and tragedy masks, mounted on a black base with a pewter swivel. The medallion was designed by an art director named Herman Rose and originally had a relief profile of Antoinette on the reverse side, but was later changed to contain the winner’s name, award category, production and year. This award comes in at 3.5 pounds and is 5 inches tall. 

Fun fact: The Phantom of the Opera (1988 –  ) is known as the Tony’s longest-running best opera.  

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Image Source: broadwayworld.com

FIFA World Cup 

This award is just downright beautiful; it’s intricate and incredibly designed. The World Cup is an international association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). This championship happens every four years since the inaugural tournament happened in 1930 (except in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II). To be able to even play at the world cup, your team must go through a qualification process, which takes three years to determine. In the tournament phase, 32 teams compete for the title at venues within the host nation over a month-long period.  The World Cup is arguably one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, as well as the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, exceeding the Olympic Games.  

The trophy displays the Earth being held up by swirling lines from a base. In 1970, the design was updated to what you see and recognize today. The process of doing so was not easy; experts of FIFA, coming from seven countries, evaluated 53 prestigious models. They decided to go with a design that belonged to Silvio Gazzaniga. Here’s a quote from the designer himself: “the lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world. From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory.” Now you see what we meant by intricate.  

It is made of solid 18-carat gold and weighs 13.6 pounds. The World Cup Award is also 14.2 inches tall and sits on a base made up of two layers of semi-precious malachite. The bottom of the trophy includes the engraved year and name of each of the FIFA World Cup winners since 1974.

Fun fact: The trophy is not awarded to the winning national permanently. World Cup winners retain the trophy only until the post-match celebration is finished. Then they are awarded a gold-plated replica rather than the solid gold trophy.  

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Image Source: FIFA.com

Super Bowl  

The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (the NFL). Essentially, it is the last game that is played from the regular season that begins in the summer of the previous year. This game was created as a part of the merger agreement between the NFL and the AFL, the American Football League. As they were rivals, it was agreed that the two champion teams would begin playing in an annual AFL vs NFL World Championship Game. The first game was played in 1976 

Awarded to the winning football team is the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The trophy is named in honor of the NFL coach Vince Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to victory wins in the first two Super Bowls. The design for this award came about after lunch with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1966. Oscar Riedner of Tiffany & Co jotted down this sketch on a napkin at said lunch. Since then, the trophy has been produced by Tiffany & Co. A new trophy is produced every year and given to the winning team. Which is different than other sports trophies (such as the Stanley Cup and Grey Cup).  

The Lombardi Trophy stands at 22 inches tall and weighs 7 pounds. It depicts a football in a kicking position on a three-sided stand and it made entirely of Sterling Silver. Engraved on the trophy, you’ll find “Vince Lombardi Trophy” as well as the roman numerals of that year’s Super Bowl year. After the win, the award gets sent to Tiffany & Co. to get engraved and shipped back to the winning team, along with smaller replicas for each member of the team. 

Fun Fact: the day of the Super Bowl is the second-largest day for food consumption in the U.S. (after Thanksgiving). It has also frequently been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year.  

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Image Source: wbur.org

Let’s put your award on the list!  

Now that we’ve discussed some of the most notable awards given out, we hope that this has sparked a creative bolt of energy in you. We look forward to helping you put together your own notable awards… and who knows, maybe next year we’ll have your awards on this list!  

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