Shelton Sisters Woven Basket, ca. 1910
My wife found this in my mother's attic about 25, 30 years ago, and asked her if she could have it, because my wife loves baskets. And she just thought it was really neat. It seemed to be so well woven. My mother told her at the time that it was her grandmother's egg basket. And so that's what we've always called it, was Granny's egg basket.
And where did Granny live?
My family came from Surry County, North Carolina.
But they also could have been in Carroll County, Virginia. There was some fluidity with my ancestors in that area, across the Virginia- North Carolina line.
It's interesting, because this basket actually has its roots in Virginia, and it was made in North Carolina. Baskets are such an important part of the American folk tradition. And usually when we see baskets, we can't identify a maker. They're more generic, they're utilitarian, some are better made than others, various woods were used. But in this particular case, even though this basket is not signed, we know the maker.
And we know the maker because the style of the weaving, the way it's put together, this wonderful fine stitching around the top. The shape, although common, is solid. This thing is very sturdy. You couldn't crush it with your hands.
Beautiful finishing nails inside that come through and bend over here on the bottom. And the weave is impeccable. It is just absolutely beautifully done, meticulously done. This basket was made by the Shelton sisters. And they were from Forsythe County, North Carolina. And they were actually listed in the 1910 Census as "Basket makers at home." So this was a home industry. Now, the Virginia roots come from the fact that they were born in Virginia. And they operated in a period from about 1880 right up through the early part of the 20th century. People really want to collect baskets by the Shelton sisters. So a basket like this in a retail sense would be somewhere in the $2,000 to $3,000 area.
Wow. (laughing) My goodness.
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