In the world of antique baskets, size does matter

Published 8:15 pm Friday, February 15, 2019


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Question: Hi Jerry. I’ve seen over the past few years, that my basket collection has plummeted in value. I’m not even talking about those mass produced Longaberger baskets but these are the finely woven handmade antique baskets. I saw a fine egg basket sell at a friend’s estate sale for only $40. I know that she paid $230 for it years ago. I bought and treasure it.

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What about this mini basket? By the way, that’s a regular apple not one of those monster apples!

I bought it from an antique shop in Junction City in the late 1970s. It’s in fine condition with no damage. I think that I paid $35, a good price back then. Is it not worth anything? Thanks.

Answer: OK, don’t shoot the messenger. I feel your pain. Yes, the market for fine antique baskets has somewhat altered. But take heart, all is not lost.

Yes, fine baskets that one time brought big money are indeed not bringing as much money today. I once again cite that it’s a change in the tastes and trends of the consumer. I’m not going to dwell on this, as I’ve said it more than once. Markets change and antiques and collectibles are a part of the market.

Here’s another wrench in the works, many of those baskets are common. Come on, these baskets were once considered the Kroger bags of 125 years ago. Meaning, they were used everyday, by everyone and were made by men and women as the need occurred. They are out there. Let’s face it, collectors and dealers have become much more astute. Just because it’s an old basket doesn’t mean that it’s worthy of a big price tag.

However, the thing that does make a difference, is when something sets it apart. Baskets that still hang onto some value are in excellent condition. Not broken up or badly repaired. They may sport great and untouched paint. We’ve talked about paint before.

Collectors are rabid over old but colorful paint. They might be super finely woven. It could be made by a well known maker, or you might know the history of the piece. Or like your basket,

it could be a well-crafted small basket and that makes the difference.

Your basket, that easily dates to the early 1900s or earlier, is a stunner in size and the size of the weavers. It could have been a labor of love, made by a skilled craftsperson. But, I wager it was used. It could have been used in sewing or as a keep all for trinkets. I bet it would hold about half a pint of berries. But as fine and sweet as it is, and with the outstanding condition, I think it’s always lived indoors.

I expect in a nice antiques store that sells country items it would be priced for about $100. A typical, but old, nice basket with no paint in a larger size would sell for about $50. So size does make a difference. Thanks for a great question.

In the world of antique baskets, size does matter