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Frog Collecting

Thursday, July 9, 2009 @ 12:07 PM Karen Hood

Collectors who find themselves caught on the hop

by Hilary Alexander

The strangest thing about frog collectors is that most of them cannot stand the real thing.

‘I’d have a fit if I saw a real one,’ said EastEnders star Wendy Richard, who has more than 400 in her collection. Wendy freely admits to being a ‘frogophile’; others call themselves frog freaks or frogoholics. They are people who collect frogobilia: anything and everything that is shaped like a frog.

Wendy Richard has been collecting since she did a summer season in Blackpool in 1976. ‘There was a joke about a wide-mouthed frog and I gave John Inman a toy frog. That’s when it started. I was collecting antique glass at the time, but when I spotted some antique frogs I just fell in love with them.’

Wendy has just moved to a new house in London. She is in the process of unpacking her collection and finding spaces to display the hundreds of frogs she has collected from all over the world in the last eight years. She has everything from a 22-carat gold frog ring to a Taiwanese frog bean bag.

Mrs Sheila Crown, of Hampstead, London, concentrates primarily on china frogs. She has picture frames, coffe mugs, planters, ashtrays, mobiles, even a frog lavatory seat and a frog telephone. ‘I began collecting frogs because I love green,’ she explained, ‘but I’m not at all keen on real frogs.’

Restaurateur Robbie Simpson, who recently opened the L.A. Cafe in London’s Knightsbridge, discovered a 3ft-high toy frog, dressed as an Edwardian dandy, in a toy shop in Versailles. It greets customers from a commanding position in the indoor garden. ‘It’s something of a lucky symbol, but it’s quite a work of art, too.’

What is it that leads people to collect frogs?

Charlotte Smallman, who runs the specialist shop, Frog Hollow, in Kensington, London W8, believes it is because collectors see the frog as a somewhat sad, forlorn creature. ‘Everyone loves cats, but the frog is something of an underdog.’

In her shop, Charlotte stocks a wide range of froggery. One of the most unusual items is a five-piece Balinese orchestra, each frog player hand-carved in wood and hand-painted.

The true ‘mecca’ for frog collectors, however, must surely be in The hague, where the Dutch enthusiast Mrs Ineke Bons-Moodyhosts an annual Frog day on April 21 for collectors from all over the world.

Mrs Bons-Moody had 2,728 frogs at the last count; she counts them every Sunday. Her hoard includes everything from 19th Century antiques to a modernistic, one-of-a-kind chess set in ceramic, made by a young Dutch artist and valued at about £12,000.

Her Frog Day regularly attracts several hundred collectors, primarily from Europe, but a few from America, who come to buy, sell and swap.

Source: Frogs Galore

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