Willow and Frogs?

Willow Loving cup with a surprise!

I am sure each of you collectors have a “bucket list” of willow items you intend to hunt down and find. My bucket list included a frog loving cup or a willow mug with a frog. I have truly loved each piece I had ever seen in books. I had not laid eyes on one of these gems in person. I basically dreamed of finding one.

I finally found one listed on Ebay with a buy it now option. I didn’t even bicker on the price, I simply purchased, paid the shipping and messaged the seller to ensure the best packing. I tracked it every day until it arrived 10+ days later. Don’t tell me you haven’t checked on the delivery of a precious willow item almost daily. Ok, maybe it is just me!

Looking at this delicate cup, I have to wonder what purpose that frog served!

I can tell you, I started collecting in 1994 and it took me until 2020 mid COVID crisis to find one of these and to have the opportunity to actually purchase. The purchase made me decide to do a little research on these cups. At World Collectors.net there is a neat article on how these got their start.

Based on the article it states the first frog mug was produced in about 1750! Yes seventeen fifty! But they were more widely produced in the mid to late 19th century. The story goes that a potter left his mugs to cool overnight and when he came in the next morning to check on his wares, there was a surprise in one mug….a frog. So he decided he would try to produce one by placing a frog in the bottom of the mug.

I will tell you, after seeing collections of others in the International Willow Collectors, there are not only frogs, but lizards in some of the mugs that were produced. You can find the frogs placed in the bottom of the mugs, near the rim, or on inside wall of the mug. Some mugs have more than one in them! Look at the price of the one referenced below in the article on World Collectors.net! Holy frog legs….that is a lot of money!

A rare Swansea Cambrian Pottery blue transfer printed Frog Mug, the interior with molded yellow frog. Circa 1790. Sold for £700 at Peter Francis Auctioneers, December 2003.

One of my fellow Willow Collectors Loren Zeller has written various articles and books on willow and transferware. He provided the picture of his frog mugs….

Courtesy of Loren Zeller

As you can see from the picture above provided by Loren, there are various types of frogs, and various types of placement. Honestly I had no idea so many different ones were made! I don’t know how lucky one collector can be to have an extensive collection like this. Loren, you have out done us all with this one! I am drooling over here in WV.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum has a collection on display of over 300 different Frog Mugs in the Davies collection pictured below:

Davies Collection of Frog Mugs

Now, take note how different each frog is and look specifically at the one second from the left bottom row. It has it’s mouth open. Now how would you feel drinking your beer out of that mug and all of a sudden a frog spits beer in your face?!!!! Maybe it would keep you from drinking so much, or maybe it would simply make you laugh. I would really love to see this collection in person some day…..another willow bucket list.

Now, talk about a rare item! I am in love with this loving cup! No pun intended. Two frogs and a lizard. Whatever pottery company produced this item had quite the sense of humor. I am sure seeing something that small in your mug would for sure frighten you! It is one thing to see a large frog you know isn’t real, but one of these little things, might just make one wet their pants, spill their beer or at least spew it across the table!

Courtesy of Brenda Nottingham

This picture above is from Brenda’s collection. You can see the detail on each frog is very different. One mug is a loving cup (two handles) and one is a standard mug with just one handle. Both have similar frog placement in the mug. Each example I see is just a little bit different, making me want to seek out my next buy!

The gallery above is from my friend Jeff’s collection. I believe the top row last one on the right is a picture of a mug that may have got away, but still he has 5 of these beauties. Now I know why I can’t find any more!!!!! They have them all. I have to say though, of all of them, I love the green spotted frog cup the best. Although, you couldn’t fit much coffee in that mug with such a big frog! I also notice the cup itself has no border on the outside. I am fairly drawn to pieces like this. Jeff, maybe some day we can trade for one of those!!!!

Ok, after reading up on Gladstone Pottery Museum, it appears to be haunted…so yeah, I will pass on that tour. If frogs weren’t enough to scare you, ghosts will do it for me! Pass!

For now, keep your eye out for these little gems. I think I could consider collecting any mug with a frog in it from this time period. The details that went into this are simply amazing. Each one is hand crafted and hand painted make one very different than the other. I am striving to have a collection like my other willow friends. Some day, some day!

Talk Soon, Christine


Published by csturtevant1975

I have been collecting Blue Willow since 1996. I am an avid collector who loves to decorate with blue willow. My favorite part is to set my tables with blue willow place settings.

5 thoughts on “Willow and Frogs?

  1. I don’t collect anything, but on my goodness. I love love love this frog mug. That is too much. I am learning so much! I miss museums. I cannot wait to go again, but until then, I will keep reading through this blog and looking at the great collection that you have.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a really great article on frog mugs! I’ve had quite a large number over the years; not always Willow, and think they’re very amusing, especially when considering the beer drinker’s shock discovery! Thanks Christine.

    Liked by 1 person

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