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Polishing the silver at Ingliston
The Queen's Cup, to the left of the gold trophies, was first presented in 1960

The Queen's Cup, presented by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1960, is the most coveted of all trophies at the Royal Highland Show.

One of more than 300 cups and quaichs which are presented over the weekend, the Queen's Cup is highly sought after.

Much care and attention is devoted to these beautifully crafted, highly polished mementoes of success.

How are so many trophies preserved and organised for the Show each year?

New trophies

Silver bowl
A child was christened in this trophy which dates from 1914

Patrice McHenry works for Hamilton and Inches silversmiths in Edinburgh.

They are tasked with looking after 310 trophies which are presented for livestock classes to best honey.

There are new trophies presented each year. These tend to be memorial trophies for someone who used to attend the show each year or accolades for a class of animal which has been without such an honour.

New this year is a sundial which is presented for Redhills.

Most valuable

The oldest trophies date from 1910. They are the two gold trophies which are so well made that they look as if they were crafted yesterday.

A brass beehive with enamelled bees is one of the most unusual, presented for best tasting honey. Others have bulls and horses including the Hunter Trophy which has horses on the top.

The gold trophies, pictured above, circulate by being awarded to a different animal each year. These are the most valuable in the collection.

The most prestigious is The Queen's Cup, presented in 1960, to the best in show among the champion livestock.

Pride of place

Smoky quartz quaich
The quaich is presented for best Blackface tup

After each class is judged, whether in the ring or one of the tents, the winner fills in a form with engraving instructions.

The engraver comes to the Show on Friday and engraves around 100 trophies at Ingliston. The remaining are worked on in Edinburgh before being despatched to the winners.

If they wish to take the trophy home, it must be covered in their household insurance. The trophies are then in their possession until the following May.

At that point, all trophies are recalled for cleaning and any necessary repairs.

As with most things in life, a trophy can come to the end of its useful life. Others, rarely, can suffer neglect while in the winner's care and it is this which requires the silversmith's attention.

Pride of place on the mantelpiece, there is a tale of child being christened in the trophy for Belted Galloway Cattle.

Unusual trophies

Hunter trophy
The Hunter Trophy is one of the more unusual designs

The smaller more unusual trophies are among Patrice's favourites: "The quaich with smoky quartz on the handle. The St John's Wells with the lace collar. I can appreciate how well made they are. If someone has a good Clydesdale they tend to win them all. Quite often they're horrified when they come and see the height of the trophies and how many they've got to take back."

Patrice explains trophies are grouped by class: "We start with sheep, go on to goats, Aberdeen Angus, Belted Galloway, Ayrshire, then commercial cattle like Dairy Shorthorn. Then horses of different varieties and crafts like embroidery, knitting, honey-making and crooks. Newer trophies are presented for all sorts of diverse categories."


The trophies you see presented in the ring are much sought after, giving recognition to the quality of that breeder's livestock.

After 170 years of the Show, there is scope for more of these beautiful objects to become part of the exhibition of the finest craftmanship, livestock and produce.

Watch video and see more photos from BBC Scotland at the Royal Highland Show:

Royal Highland Show 2010
17 Jun 10 |  People & Places




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