Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now, where did I put my Quintal?

Vase. From the Latin vas, meaning 'vessel'. There are so many more ways to display flowers than in a simple vase. Centuries ago, flowers were difficult to come by. (Have you heard about Tulipmania in Holland?). During the 17th century, flowers were a commodity available only to the rich, so owning containers made specifically for displaying flowers was a show of your affluence. During that time, European potters created a five-fingered vase called a 'quintal', and its popularity hasn't waned since, though these days perhaps a bit more difficult to come by. You may have inherited one from grandma, and wondered what it was called.

The five-fingered vase made it's way to America during the Colonial era, and was then adopted by potters in Georgia who then called the vase a 'wedding jug".

Other floral 'helpers' have existed for centuries, as well. And you no doubt have a few of these kicking around your house-the flower frog. Though there are many incarnations, such as glass, plastic, or metal, their purpose are the same: to reside at the bottom of a container, helping to hold up stems of flowers. They can be as simple as a metal base with sharp pins (also known as kensan and used in Ikebana design), to fanciful porcelain, stoneware or glass examples.

No one really knows why they became known as frogs,
but the common thought is that because they reside underwater and are hidden by leaves, they bear a
resemblance to their namesake. They are so popular
there is even a website called Flower Frog Gazette, and a very comprehensive book called Flower Frogs for Collectors. Jackie Kennedy had a large collection of frogs, which was later sold at auction.

My own collection is , ahem, somewhat smaller than Jackie's, but I use them constantly!

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