How to Identify Antique Baskets

By Linda Stamberger
An antique basket.

Antique baskets are collected for investment purpose, and for their beauty and functionality. The resale value remains steady for distinct antique baskets; most notably Native American baskets. Many different types of antique baskets were made from all over the world as well. There is quite the variety to be found for a broad range of collectors. Antique baskets are available in many different shapes and sizes.

Native American baskets.

Look over your basket to see if you have a highly collectible Native American antique basket. The weave is the defining factor. Baskets were often woven in an "over and under" style. Designs and patterns on the exterior of the basket can identify the distinct Native American tribe. Baskets were often done in a coil design too, which is somewhat similar to the potter’s technique. Antique Native American baskets can be quite valuable and are highly desirable among collectors. As of February 2010, value on these baskets can exceed in excess of $1,000 and up.

Chinese wooden baskets.

See if your basket is made from wood. It may be Chinese. Antique Chinese baskets were made for storage and often intricately compartmentalized, which was essential in the cramped dwellings that the Chinese lived in. Chinese baskets, whether stationary or transferable, were generally made from wood, mainly Elmwood, and some even had sliding compartments used to transport or store food. Other materials used to make Chinese baskets include woven bamboo and woven wicker.

A shaker basket.

See if you have a classic American Shaker basket in your collection. Shaker baskets are rare; few were produced. There were two types; working baskets and fancy baskets. The working baskets were used for everyday chores, and the fancy basket for table settings or as a functional decorative. Shaker baskets are identifiable by a hallmark, ash or white oak as part of the basket and were woven in a flat splint style weave.

Examine your basket.

Examine your basket for a mark. Just because something isn’t marked, or easily identifiable, doesn’t mean it is not antique or valuable. Look at the quality of the workmanship--attention to detail and quality weave. On older baskets there will be wood handles, intricate design work and weight, from the materials used. Modern factory baskets are much lighter and inferior in quality and design. There are talented modern basket makers, so when in doubt, bring your basket to an auction house or professional to be evaluated.

Search thrift stores.

Go online or in your area to look for antique baskets.Thrift stores often separate baskets into a distinct group, and you might get an antique basket at a set, inexpensive price. You can often finds gems, whereas the antique stores will price their antique baskets higher, especially if a dealer knows the value. Try auction houses, individual basket makers and even gift shops, and don’t forget outdoor flea markets and garage sales.

Go to an exhibition.

Go to exhibitions about baskets. Basket collecting is such a popular hobby there are basketry exhibitions, conferences, seminars and workshops teaching people about antique baskets and how they were made. Look online for any events in your area, or ask around at you local antique, art or craft shop.

About the Author

Linda Stamberger began writing professionally in 1994, as an entertainment reporter for "Good Times Magazine." She has written online copy for The Volusia Community website and is the author of "Antiquing in Florida." Stamberger studied creative writing at Southampton College, where she won a partial writing scholarship.