Who are Oscar and Emmy's parents?
January 31, 2006 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Who are Oscar and Emmy's parents?

At least as far back as the renaissance, professional achievement and social vanity were celebrated by the stamping of attractive bronze discs (the practice endures to our own day). By the nineteenth, we begin to see silver cups. (Okay, by the seventeenth century we get loving cups, but bear with me.)

First question- who first first engraved an otherwise fungible water holder, handed it on to some over-achiever and said, "Here- you deserve this"?

Second and really my main question- on what occasion did the commemorative cup first give way to the useful-as-doorstopper statuette? To say nothing of all those marble mahagony brass creations so often found in houses of the sports mad?

(Bonus points if you can name the first bits of metal stuck on a) aristo chests and b) footsoldier chests) (Picture is of an aged Waterloo veteran & wife. I'm guessing it was Napoleon for the lowly ranked, but am eager to be surprised)

(I realize this is slightly flat footed and may resist hard and fast answers, but I'm always interested first setters of the unlikely trend. For example, who was the first real cool alpha highschool kid who managed to convince a generation of lemmings that dressing like Baby Huey was not only not stupid looking, but hip? Marketers (I am not one, I hasten to add)want to find this amazing person.)
posted by IndigoJones to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
I have sort of an answer to the first question.

Trophies -- the cup-with-handles variety -- must've derived from the custom of passing a loving cup. "A loving cup is a large drinking vessel, usually of silver and with handles, which is passed from hand to hand at the end of a banquet, for each guest to drink from in turn." By extension, such a passing of the cup could probably be traced back to The Last Supper and earlier.

So as a shared cup would be something cherished and enjoyed by all, giving it to one special person for a job well done would be a sign of appreciation, yes?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:04 PM on January 31, 2006

Reading again, I see you're looking more for the actual scratching of names on said loving cup. Um. Well, then I've no idea ...

Though maybe the Grail has the initials "J.H.C." on the bottom.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2006

Gawd, I hate it when I've read an article on something and can't seem to find it.
If I recall correctly, you can trace cups back to Greek times (though laurels were the choice for Romans). There's an example in the Iliad of a horse race ending in a cup as prize. Definitely pre-Christian. I'd wager that the resurgance in the 17th century pretty well mirrored the contemporary vogue for all things Greco-Roman, as that's when the first archeology to unearth that culture really got going.
Commemorative statues? Again, I know that they were commonly made for contests in the ancient Mediterranean, but I can't say when that stopped being post-facto statues of the winner and became a premade thing.
(Perhaps one of the fine librarians in the audience can find the article I'm thinking of... I know it was in a scholarly journal and that I found it because I was looking up something on sporting events for some Iliad paper a couple years ago. While it didn't help me, it was a good read. Unfortunately, whatever search terms I used to find it have been lost to my shifting memory).
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 PM on January 31, 2006

I don't have my Robert Anton Wilson "Illuminati Papers" handy but I recall a passage, an ancient, cup of renown modeled upon Helen of Troy's breast.
posted by hortense at 9:41 PM on January 31, 2006

I'll try the bonus question. The 1800's certainly kicked off the classic pin-it-on-your-chest medals in a big way, as a browse of eMedals website catalog demonstrates. Many interesting medals to be found there. But the Waterloo medal of 1815 was not the earliest issue medal for a lowly foot-soldier.

According to several sites, the earliest British medal for all soldiers present in a battle is the Dunbar Medal of 1650. From the linked site: "The Dunbar Medal of 1650 ... was issued to both officers (in gold) and men (in silver), after Cromwell's victory at the Battle of Dunbar, 3 September 1650."

There may be chest-pinning military medals issued earlier than that for other countries, but they eluded my search.
posted by mdevore at 10:00 PM on January 31, 2006

Just to argue with myself, this site states that the Dunbar Medal was "suspended from the neck" and "The first official war medal, as we know them today, was the 1815 Waterloo Medal. It was issued with a ribbon and an instruction stating ‘...the ribbon issued with the medal shall never be worn but with the medal suspended on it.’"

So the 1815 Waterloo medal may or may not be the first, depending on how you look at it.
posted by mdevore at 10:53 PM on January 31, 2006

Response by poster: One thing I like about AskMetafilter is that even if you don't get the answer to your question, you're likely to get other interesting information. Roman prize statuary - who knew? (Besides Mr Klangston) I had always thought it was laurel leaf and (for Athenian Olympians) a free pass to the Athenian salad bar for life. Must look into this further. (I picture archeologists digging up a Prize of Scriptural Knowledge awarded to B. Voosterius....)

mdevore- never heard of the Medal of Dunbar, most interesting. Who knew Cromwell was that sentimental? (Wonder who came up wit the idea, for that matter?) Raises the question of campaign medals ("I was there") vs gallantry medals ("I was damn near killed there") in general.

Thanks to all and more is always welcome
posted by IndigoJones at 9:26 AM on February 1, 2006

« Older Can you figure out what video card this is?   |   Help me get rid of these green rocks in my faucets... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.