Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Originally known as the Gramophone Awards, the Grammy Awards takes place this year on Febraury 10th.  If you have ever watched the awards, you would probably recognize the Gramophone trophy award. It’s eloquent design makes it stand out and easy to recognize.

We here at Toronto Gold did a little research and found some interesting tidbits that we’d like to share regarding the history of the Grammy Awards, and specifically the production of this gold-plated trophy.

Grammy Awards History

The Grammys first began in 1958 when the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences decided to present awards to the top performances in the music industry. This marked the beginning of the Grammy’s as we know it.

When trying to decide what the award should be called, the name Eddie Awards (after Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph) was one possible choice. However, they decided to go with Gramophone Awards after the gramophone that was invented by Emile Berliner. The Grammy Awards Trophy is fashioned after the gramophone.

Production Of Gramophone Award

Meet John Billings, the “Grammy Dude”. John is the owner of Billings Artworks, the Colorado company that produces the Gramophone trophies. The process hasn’t changed much since the trophy’s first production. As such, it is a very complicated and time consuming process, because it’s all done by hand. With the help of his son “little John” and longtime friend Jim Spear, John Billings crafts each Gramophone by hand – spinning, shaping, filing, grinding, buffing and polishing to make sure that each one is built to perfection. Initially, the trophies were build using lead which proved problematic as trophies began to break. So they made a small change in the metal used to construct the trophies.

Today, each horn is made up of gorgeous spun brass. Each tone arm, base cast and cabinet is made from a unique alloy called grammium. Grammium is a trademarked zinc and aluminum metal alloy that was developed specifically for the Gramophone Award. After the trophies are cast in grammium, they are plated in 24-karat gold for a final touch, giving it the rich glow that radiates throughout the ceremony.

According to the Recording Academy, each Gramophone trophy weighs 5lbs 4ozs and stands 9 inches tall. The melt value of the Grammy trophy would be hard to determine since Grammium is a unique alloy, and contains no precious metals.

Miscellaneous Facts

  • Michael Jackson and Santana are the all-time Grammy heavy-weights. Each won 8 Grammy Awards in one night, Jackson in 1984 and Santana in 2000. In more recent history, Adele made all the major news headlines by winning 6 in one night in 2012.
  • Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are tied for performing the most times on the annual Grammy Awards telecasts, each performing 11 times.
  • As of 2012, 78 Gramophone Trophies are presented each year. In prior years, over 100 trophies were presented each year.
  • The post-telecast Grammy celebration has grown to an event that hosts more than 6,000 guests each year.
  • The trophies seen on television during the Grammy’s are “stunt” trophies that are reused every year. Actual awards are presented to the winners after the ceremony with their names and winning category engraved on the award for them to keep.
  • A grand total of 7,578 Gramophone trophies have been presented as of the year 2009.