As a collector and researcher of antique and vintage baskets for about 40 years, I always explain in detail what I find unique and rare about old baskets I collect.
This is a very petite oak splint rectangular basket with handle but note that is it stained deep reddish brown in color. This is a very old hand made miniature and no, it is not a Lonaberger or a mass produced basket.
While I cannot be exactly certain of the age, this miniature basket has been in my collection about 40 years. I remember where I bought it. It was outside Boone NC in the early 1980s. It was at a mans house who lived way back in the mountains and was selling bird houses in his front yard. The basket was not for sale. I saw it sitting in a box of stuff in his shed where he made the bird houses and offered to buy it.
I came to know this man in later years and he was of Cherokee descent but he lived in north western NC, Watauga County. He told me that this basket has been in the shed a long time. I asked how long and he said a 3 or 4 decades. When I saw it I guessed it was 1940s, so 1940s or 1950s is about right.
So, how did I know this? How did I guess the age of it on first sight? First, it was stained. Second, it had a braided rim. No one in the Appalachians made braided rim baskets of any size after the 1950s. I just know that. That's conservative. This style of weaving most popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
I rarely if ever find really old miniature baskets. I've always been attracted to them because I sit and stare at them and wonder. I wonder what was the purpose of making a basket this small? I've never come up with a good answer! Also notice the vertical canes are top wrapped over and under the braided rim. That is a very old fashioned style of caning.
The basket has a clean dark oak patina. You might swear it looks new but it has been stashed away in my collection for decades and previously in mountain shed for decades. Oak withstands the test of time. There are no split or missing canes and the bottom and the corners inside and out are perfect as well. I have not cleaned it in any way. It is exactly like the day it was made.
It measures 3 3/4" tall with handle. The basket alone is 4 1/4" long x 2 1/2" wide x 1 3/4" deep.