Saturday, June 13, 2009

Martha Wetherbee Woodchip Basket

This is the latest addition to my collection of baskets, a Martha Wetherbee Shaker woodchip basket. The basket was woven in 1984, relatively early in Martha's career as a Shaker basket historian. Over the years the basket has developed a nice patina and darkened to a deep honey color.

The basket features oak runners laced to the bottom of the basket with leather and a leather liner sewn to the inside of the basket. Baskets like these were made by the Shakers to transport and store short lengths of wood for the small wood stoves they used to heat the rooms of their buildings. The wooden runners or "skates" laced to the bottom of the basket allowed the loaded basket to be dragged by a rope across the snow or ice like a sled. The leather liner kept any wood scraps from falling out onto the floor of the neat and orderly Shaker homes and buildings.

I was fortunate enough to come into possession of this basket when a collector from Boston, MA contacted me to ask if I knew the value of the basket. I informed him that according to Martha's 2008 price list a new woodchip basket with liner was $2,500.00. He had listed the basket on Craig's List, but hadn't gotten any offers, so I made him one and the basket was mine. I am excited to shop Martha my new aquisition when she visits at the end of the month for our annual workshop.