Bonhams to offer the FA Cup trophy awarded from 1896 to 1910
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Bonhams to offer the FA Cup trophy awarded from 1896 to 1910
The FA Cup trophy awarded from 1896 to 1910. Estimate: £700,000 - 900,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- On September 29, Bonhams is to offer a unique piece of English football history – the oldest surviving FA Cup presented to the winning teams between 1896 and 1910, including Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. The cup leads a special Sporting Trophies Sale at Bonhams New Bond Street saleroom. It has an estimate of £700,000 - 900,000.

The trophy was in use from 1896 until 1910 when, realising that no patent had been taken out on the design, the Football Association withdrew it and commissioned a new cup – a forerunner of the one in use today.

The FA presented the withdrawn cup to their President, Lord Kinnaird, in recognition of his 21 years of service. (Lord Kinnaird was also a formidable football player, appearing in a record nine FA Cup Finals). The trophy remained in the Kinnaird family until 2005. Until recently, the privately owned cup has been on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester, where it has formed part of the display.

An astonishing piece of football history, the trophy charts the transformation of the game from one initially dominated by public school players to the popular mass participation sport that it became and remains.

In addition to the names of the winners of the competition from 1896-1910, the cup also carries the names of the 1872-1895 winners. This is because the very first FA cup, was stolen in 1895 and never recovered. The list of winners of the stolen cup includes Old Etonians, Oxford University, the Royal Engineers and Wanderers. It was not until 1883 that the cup was won by a team – Blackburn Olympic – with its roots in the working-class communities of the north of England. It was this victory by Blackburn Olympic that marked a decisive moment in the history of the game as the dominance of teams comprising former pupils from English public schools waned.

The silver two-handled cup was made by Vaughton & Sons, Birmingham, in 1896 and its cover is surmounted by a figure of a footballer with a football at his feet. A note on the underside reads ‘Made By/P.Vaughton & Sons/Birmingham/1896/From A Cast Of The Old Cup/Which Was Lost.’

The FA Cup is the oldest national football competition in the world, and the final attracts a world-wide audience of millions. In the words of the late Sir Bobby Robson, "The FA Cup final is the greatest single match outside the World Cup final - and it's ours.” The qualifying rounds of the knock-out competition usually start in August with League sides joining, according to level, from November onwards. The final is played at Wembley, usually in May of the following year. The Cup provides teams from the lower leagues and non-league football to play against the very finest clubs in England, and to earn, often much-needed, extra gate receipts. This has led to many giant-killing acts, most famously perhaps when in 1989, Sutton from the Conference League, defeated top division Coventry, which had won the cup 18 months earlier. The score was 2-1.

Managing Director of Bonhams Knightsbridge, Jon Baddeley, said, “We are very proud to have been entrusted with the sale of this legendary cup. It embodies so much of the early history of our national game that it can, without exaggeration, be described as a national treasure. I anticipate a great deal of interest in the trophy.”

The present cup offered for sale was contested for on 15 occasions before being retired and subsequently presented to The Right Hon. Lord Kinnaird in 1911. First time winners of this actual trophy include Manchester City, Manchester United, Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur to name but a few. Below are listed the details of each final this cup was played for with all the matches taking place at the Crystal Palace with the exception of the replays of 1901 (Burnden Park, Bolton) and 1910 (Goodison Park, Liverpool).

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