History of Baskets
When silver baskets first appeared around the 17th century they resembled the original, practical and rudimental woven straw or wooden baskets used in agriculture.
By the late 18th century, under the influence of neo-classical design, baskets were replaced by lighter more delicate forms which were die-stamped and fly-pierced or made from silver wire.
With changing menus and eating habits, not only were silver baskets used to hold bread, but more ornamented baskets, often with swing handles were used from the 19th century to serve cakes, sweetmeats and bon bons.
During the Victorian era in the mid 1800’s, small baskets were used with centrepieces and epergnes to compliment and further ornament designs.
Victorian baskets were usually decorated extravagantly with applied and engraved decoration, focus was on floral, shell and foliate designs. The majority of Victorian silverware was decorated in this manner. Masks, such as maiden’s, lion or ram’s heads were incorporated in handle designs.
During this era baskets also became increasingly popular wedding gifts. We now refer to these particular silver baskets as ‘bride’s baskets’ which came into prominence during the 1880s. Crafted in sterling or coin silver, bride’s baskets became an instrumental part of the wedding ceremony; flower girls would carry these baskets down the aisle from which to scatter flower petals. The basket would then be transported to take pride of place during the reception and showcasing the bridal bouquet. Bride’s baskets would often feature a colourful glass insert, often bespoke hand painted for the betrothed couple. Alternatively, baskets would be decorated with whimsical engravings of fruit, flowers, birds and cherubs- signifying a new beginning for the bride and groom. Bride’s baskets have since become popular collectors’ items and are now utilised as centrepieces, either exclusively as ornamental, or to contain flowers, fruits, cakes or sweats.
Edwardian baskets were typical of the Art Nouveau style which permeated this era, they were finer and more delicate than Victorian baskets, often utilising wirework and more subtle design details.
Motifs featured on Edwardian baskets were usually exotic and naturalistic, including designs such as flowers and scroll work. Repousse was also a common feature in silver baskets from this era.