- Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:00
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The owner of this glass frog used to visit an antique mall a few miles north of Richmond, the most interesting booth of which was that of a lady named Luba Herold. He never spent much money there, but got to know her over the years. On one occasion he asked whether she might be related to the great writer, J. Christopher Herold, whose biography of the French woman of letters, Madame de Stael, which he entitled, MISTRESS TO AN AGE, won the National Book Award in 1959. She replied, “He was my husband.”
From that point on the two would meet at the mall and chat about far more than antiques. Luba had been born in Harkin in the Far East, and was of White Russian ancestry. She delighted in all things Russian, and gave him this frog as a token of their friendship. She liked it both because it imitated Russian malachite, the most precious stone of Imperial Russia, and because she liked frogs.
A few years later the patron went in the mall to find her booth empty. When he asked where she was, another dealer said she had died of cancer, as had her famous husband many years earlier. These past two decades the frog has been a reminder of that kind and interesting lady, and although she presented it to him as a friendship gift, it has intrinsic value as well.
More precisely, it is a fine piece of end-of-the-day glass, probably from one of the well-known glass factories in Ohio in the 1920s, and is worth $65. By now astute readers probably have guessed that I am the owner of the frog. Luba Herold was one of Virginia’s premier antiquarians, and a pure delight to know. In the years since my visit visit, I have judged other mall booths by her standards. They truly were difficult to surpass.