c1859 Daguerreotype Sisters with Baskets (161.)
This week's Museum Monday number is 161....but instead of my general catalogue, I thought I would share item 161 from the image collection instead....along with a couple early baskets like the ones the girls are holding. This is a 6th plate size and I left it large so you can click on it to really enjoy the details~ not only of their hand painted basket purses, but their matching stripe gowns and paletot jackets. These girls are of an age I refer to inbetween, due to their hairstyles~ not young enough for side/bottle curls or ringlets, but not old enough to draw ones hair back in a bun either~ no~ at this age, girls wore their hair neatly combed back and caught up behind the ears.
Now really study those fabulous basket purses! Each rectangular in shape, with double handles and the girls's on the right looks to have a lid. So many times I study early photographs and think....if I just just see it at a slightly different angle....if she would have held it in the other hand....a little higher...a little lower.....turn it a little bit~ I could see the details I need to see! Heck...there have been times I have thought 'why not just take a picture of the basket...just the basket!'
I am lucky to have two different examples of the baskets they are holding~ so that, even tho they arent the actual baskets in the photo, they are still of same shape and in color!!
The first is 698.2013.16, in pretty good shape~ outstanding shape actually as these baskets can get so dry and brittle they break apart easily into a million teensy tiny little pieces (dont ask me how I know...please. just. dont. ask). It also still retains its 2 original handles, which is nothing short of a miracle. Each handle is attached to the basket body by way of a single willow splint that has been drawn thru the upper edge of the basket into a ring shape ~ the weakest part of the entire construction~ and the weight of what was in the baskets broke the rings more often than not. I have several period images & baskets with make do handles~ strings, rope...ribbons, wire...these baskets were a status symbol in early to mid 19th c America, and were highly prized by their owners. If both handles broke of, the baskets were still used as table baskets for sewing & such. Looking at this basket you may not think that the lid is missing...but it is~ in my over 300 examples, there is not a single basket without a lid now, that doesn't have remains of original lid latch or hinges....so I can say without a doubt that all these early painted basket purses were originally sold with lids...and in this case.... not just one lid, this type basket had two!
This basket , 399.2007.17, is in a bit finer condition with beautiful bright paint, both its handles and one of the two original lids~ yay!
Each lid opened from the center out on a hinge, that way no sneaky hands could snag something from ones basket while walking thru market!