By Jef Rietsma
Collector/Collection: Grace Bond, Harp seal figurines.
How did your collection begin? “It was 1988 and I was back in my home country of Holland. We were in the northern part of the province where I was born and we happened upon a rehabilitation center for seals. The doctors there helped seals that had been orphaned, sick or injured by boats or other animals. The seals were all small and so incredibly adorable. Their big eyes and such beautiful expressions … they’re just darling. I have been in love with harp seals ever since.”
A department store near the hospital had an embroidery piece with a baby seal. She completed the piece and had it framed. It became the first item in her collection. She now has about three dozen pieces.
What is your best source for acquiring/trading/selling? “I’m not really interested in buying or trading and, actually, I’ve stopped buying pieces. Once my curio cabinet ran out of space, I decided that’s enough. I wasn’t going to let this collection get out of control and I didn’t want to spend my time worrying about what I don’t have in my collection. I very much enjoy what I have. My only concern is what will happen to the collection when I’m gone because I know my kids and grandkids won’t be interested in keeping it.”
What is the most unique or expensive item in your collection? “I have a crystal seal figure that my son-in-law brought back from the Netherlands when he was visiting there. It was made by the Swarovski Company and it is just beautiful. I also have a couple Hummel figures I bought in Frankenmuth. They were a little more expensive, too.”
What joy do you get from collecting harp seals? “It was a fluke that I started collecting seals but after that day seeing them in the seal hospital, I just fell in love with them. They’re so friendly, they’re playful, their expressions and those big, brown eyes are just beautiful. Of course, when they get older they’re just big, smelly animals but I still love them even as adults.”
Footnotes: A Klines Resort resident, Bond and her late husband made a trip to Bath, Maine, in the early 90s to see seals. She got a few figurines during that trip, but the highlight was standing on the beach and being surrounded by the playful seals. The 88-year-old Bond moved to the US when she was 16.
By Jef Rietsma