Flower Frog Gazette

A Brief History of Flower Frogs

by Bonnie Bull

Although flower frogs reached their heyday in the United States in the mid-twenties and thirties during the flapper era, they can be traced back to the 16th century in Europe where it was customary for pottery and china houses to mark their pieces. Glass flower frogs were not generally marked prior to 1870-- the year it became possible to record patents and trademarks on glassware.

The oldest known record for a U.S. frog is a patent issued to S. Van Stone in 1875 for a conical shaped flower stand with concentric rings of holes stacked pyramid fashion. Another early creation is the mushroom-shaped, Mt. Washington condiment server/floral holder . A patent for this holder was issued to Andrew Snow, Jr. in 1893.

Since the turn of the century some 20 well-known glass and pottery houses have manufactured frogs in the U.S. They have ranged in shape and design from simple "rounds" to elaborate and artistic "figurals." One of the most prolific producers of glass flower frogs in the U.S. was Cambridge Glass Co., located in Cambridge, Ohio. Any round frog that says "PAT'D April 11, 1916" on the side is Cambridge. Some of the Cambridge round glass frogs have "Pat. Apl'd For" on them, and a few from the later years have "Cambridge" embossed on the side. All of the figural ladies are covered by a patent issued to A. J. Bennett on Oct. 18, 1927. Of the same era but cast in pottery are the R. G. Cowan dancing ladies with trailing scarf in hand. Many are individually patented and have double-walled bases. They are full of life and movement, reflecting an age of flamboyance soon overshadowed by the Depression.

The etymology of the term "frog" has proved more difficult to research than the actual items themselves. The term "frog" as it relates to a holder for flower stems does appear in 1968 in the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, but it is not listed in the Oxford and Chamber's etymological dictionaries. How it came into general use remains a mystery. Over the years flower frogs have been referred to by many different names; such as, flower blocks, flower bricks, flower holders, and floral arrangers.

Patents Mentioned in this article:

Oldest US patent was on July 13, 1875, issued to S. Van Stone.

The 1916 A. J. Bennett (Cambridge) Patent #1,179,144.

Cambridge Figural (Roses) Lady Patent 1,645,577, issued to A. J. Bennett on Oct. 18, 1927.

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