The second edition of the Football Association (FA) Cup trophy, which cost £25 ($33/€28) to make, was sold today at auction for nearly £760,000 ($977,000/€834,000).
The historic silver trophy formed as a two-handled cup and cover, surmounted by a figure of a footballer with a football at his feet, was awarded to the winning team in the oldest national football competition in the world between 1896 and 1910.
The trophy had been put up for sale by West Ham United co-owner David Gold.
Gold had bought the trophy in 2005 at auction for £478,000 ($613,000/€524,000) while chairman of Birmingham City, claiming at the time he was preserving the piece of history for the country.
The final price at Bonhams was £759,062 ($976,080/€833,014), including the buyer's premium.
Until recently, the Cup had been displayed in the National Football Museum in Manchester.
"We are very proud to have been entrusted with the sale of this legendary cup," Bonhams managing director Jon Baddeley said.
"It embodies so much of the early history of our national game that it can, without exaggeration, be described as a national treasure."
The trophy, which is 50.7 centimetres high with the plinth, bears the winners' names from 1872 onwards, including Wanderers, winners of five of the first seven finals, including three in a row.
The team based in Upper Norwood in London were then presented with the trophy in perpetuity only to apply the "Corinthian" spirit of the amateur game at the time and return it to The FA – ironically, they never won it again.
Other amateur teams who won it during this period included Oxford University, Royal Engineers, Old Etonians, Clapham Rovers and Old Carthusians before the southern stranglehold on the trophy was broken in 1883 by Blackburn Olympic, leading to the dominance of clubs from Northern England and the Midlands.
The first winners of the new trophy in 1896 were Sheffield Wednesday, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 in the final to claim their first major honour.
First-time winners of this actual trophy included Manchester City, Manchester United, Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United.
🏆The oldest surviving FA Cup, presented to the winning teams between 1896-1910, sold at #Bonhams today for £760,000🏟️— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) September 29, 2020
The trophy charts the transformation of the game from one dominated by public school players to the popular mass participation sport that it became and remains. pic.twitter.com/W3ukAOdbs7
In 1897, Aston Villa defeated Everton 3-2 in front of 65,891 spectators at Crystal Palace to become only the second team ever to win "the double" of the Cup and Football League First Division Championship in the same season.
Two-time winners of this trophy included Bury, who lifted it in 1900 and 1903.
Last August the club were expelled from the English Football League, having been members since 1894, because of financial difficulties.
The trophy was retired in 1910 after Newcastle's 2-0 victory over Barnsley and presented the following year to Lord Kinnaird by The FA to mark his 21st anniversary as President of the national governing body.
Kinnaird had played and scored a goal in the second-ever FA Cup final in 1873 when Wanderers defeated Oxford University 2-0.
He went on to play in a further eight finals for either Wanderers or Old Etonians and ended up on the winning side on five occasions in total between 1873 and 1883.
His record of playing in nine FA Cup finals is one that stands to this day.
Kinnaird's record of five wins in the competition stood until 2010, when it was broken by Ashley Cole, who played for Arsenal and Chelsea.