Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine SP 15

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Page 83 of 195

he year was 1996. Martha Stewart ruled. Her iconic magazine showed us intriguing ways to winterize our bulbs, bake a trifle, wallpaper a powder bathroom, and what was cool to collect. I was impressionable at that time, looking for guidance on what moved me. In Martha Stewart Living, a feature was written on collecting antique flower frogs. It was fascinating. These were little utilitarian objects that held flower stalks in place for ikebana and flower arranging. Something so simple, yet so infused with thought to design. I totally wanted them all. My quest began. I actu- ally junked around in those early days with my sisters in Sacramento. There was a Victorian house converted to an antique store, where I found and became the owner of my first flower frogs, of the metal cage design. I flew back home to Vegas with those metal frogs in tow and decided I was to become a flower frog collector. Upon scouring the local antique shops, I discovered they were not real- ly rare, but also not very plentiful. And while flower frogs are not the kind of item that rely on novelty for its appeal, I found that they fell into three material categories: glass, pottery and metal. The most common were of glass. I admired the colors du jour of the glass rounds. Some were a golden opalescent carnival glass, or the dense green of jadeite, or the common clear. However, my favorite find was a cobalt blue two-tiered piece, of which I have never found another since. Now, I didn't allow myself to be dazzled by every flower frog I found, but on a shopping trip to old Pasadena, there in a locked display case were the rare pottery frogs. As I pressed my nose against the glass, fascinated by the dark rich hues of blue and ocher, these pieces made by Roseville, Weller, Cowan and Van Briggle had price tags in the hundreds of dollars, preventing them from joining my meager start-up collection. I later found each one from various shops and at great prices as the years went by. Of all the materials and many styles available, I must say my favorites are the metal frogs. Some are figural, such as the lead turtles from Japan. Others have taken the idea of a flower and abstracted it. Even rarer are the expandable wire frogs. My most prized and valued are a figural bronze dragon and a huge lead turtle with a movable hinged tail and neck. The simplest are the "kenzan," which we commonly call a needle or spike holder. In that Martha Stewart Living flower frog feature, a very rare combination of kenzan with metal swirls was shown. I finally found that exact piece and I think it's my favorite. While history cannot really explain how the name "flower frog" was originated, floral frogs, like live frogs, sit in the water. A floral frog can be placed down deep in the water of a vase securing the position of the flower stems to create a lavish floral arrangement and remain unseen. Or they may be placed in a shallow dish so that they are on display. These not- so-shy examples are called figural frogs and are the most elaborate. It was the decadent l920s and the Art Deco 1930s that produced the showy fig- ural gazelles and dancing women by pottery makers Haeger, Fulper, Cowan and Shawnee. Marie Louise Fuller, appearing at the Folies Bergere Paris in 1892, danced enveloped in yards of swirling, shimmering cloth, 82 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 5 COLLECTING TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARJORIE SNOW Vintage Flower Frogs T A bronze dragon and lead prehistoric turtle, with a hinged neck and tail, are extremely rare examples of collectible flower frogs, valued at $500 each.

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