Though baskets collect items, they also make for valuable collectibles in their own right. Stunning weaving and artwork can separate a vintage basket from a newer model. However, the "vintage look" sometimes applied to new baskets poses a challenge to those pursuing vintage baskets in particular. A formal examination by an antique expert can tell an old basket from a newer one made to look aged. Beyond this, shrewd collectors build their knowledge of baskets to improve their odds of finding the real thing.
Watch out for words associated with newer baskets. The word "style" is a major alert. Phrases such as "vintage style" and "sweetmeat style," for example, frequently describe newly made baskets that merely reproduce or imitate an authentic vintage fashion.
Train your eye with full-color catalogs from auction houses. Check out old catalogs from Christie's, Sotheby's and similar houses. These catalogs often feature older baskets, to which you can compare the baskets you find.
Examine the basket for distinguishing features. A raised bottom and swing handles can characterize a Bushwhacker basket, for example. Unique details such as this often signal a vintage basket.
Look for special details on silver and faience baskets. Vintage faience baskets are sometimes marked with "Longwy," an early 20th century French manufacturer. Fancy swirling patterns on silver baskets can mark them as sweetmeat baskets, worth up to $3,000.
Determine the specific type of wood in wooden baskets. Ash, hickory, maple and willow were used to create New England market baskets -- definitely a vintage find.