Flower Frog Gazette

Petal-Shaped Flower Holders Cast in Lead

Patented by Ernestine N. Pole


Photo courtesy of Sarah Kruse*

Article by Bonnie Bull

In late October, 2001, I received email from the granddaughter of Ernestine Pole. She wrote:

The other day I was in a antique store with my daughter and we stopped dead when we saw a set of lead flower holders in the display case. They were some that my grandmother [Ernestine Noera Pole] designed and held a patent on and they were sold in the flower shop in the Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia, from the early 1930s through the 1950s. ...

...The holders are shaped like petals or leaves and there are at least 10 designs from quite small to 10" in diameter with 24 sets of leaves/petals. ...

My grandfather was the doctor in Hot Springs and my grandmother chose to study voice in Italy instead of going to college as her three sisters did. When she was widowed at 40, she was unprepared to support herself and her son (my father) who was a freshman at Woodberry Forest School. Initially she went to New York and was the chaperone (housemother) for the Dennis-Shawn School of the Dance. She was known for her ability to arrange flowers, and when Fay Ingalls, the owner of the Homestead, asked her if she would run a flower shop if he put one in the hotel, she was pleased to come back home. She ran the flower shop until she was nearly 80 and in addition to designing and producing the flower holders, she lectured on flower arranging and judged flower shows all over the country.

The production of the holders is a story in itself. A nephew of my late grandfather worked for all those years in my grandmother's basement making the holders. ...

View Pole Patent (press your browser's back button to return to this page)
* The flower frogs in the photo are all marked "U.S. Pat. No. 916583" in a circle. They range in price from $50-$90. The photograph appears in my book Flower Frogs for Collectors.

This page created November 15, 2001

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