This antique German basket was a last-minute purchase at Gold Rush Days antique market this year. I had pulled up my van to load in the antique cabinet I got for the basement and spotted a stack of antique German baskets at a nearby booth. I have bought a couple of baskets from that vendor before and I knew the prices and pieces were good, so I thought it was worth taking a quick look even if my van was questionably parked. The vendor had two antique German baskets. One was in better condition, but it was so large that I had no idea where I would even put it! The second one was a better size, but the top was crunched, likely from being stacked under the weight of other loaded baskets.
These lidded baskets were used as shipping containers, trunks, and suitcases for goods and possessions. Can you imagine lugging one of these around when you’re moving or traveling? While the basket wasn’t in perfect condition, I loved the woven pattern, the original latches, and even the repair made with twine. I’ve said this before, but I love it when I have the chance to buy something that was repaired. To me, that just adds to the story and it shows the piece was valuable enough for the owner to fix.
The basket just needed a good cleaning and I thought I might be able to straighten it out a bit. At $60, it was worth giving it a try!
Isn’t that twine repair charming?
A few people have asked how I know it’s an antique German basket. First of all, I have seen baskets like this before that were labeled as such. I suppose there could be some debate if it is French or perhaps from another European country. I do have some similar baskets that were marketed as French.
But, this one has a strong piece of evidence inside to support that it’s German…
There was a large folded piece of paper in the bottom of the antique basket with German words and names written on it…
I knew geschenk means gift, but I had to look up what the full meaning of the word was. Geschenksendung means gift shipment. Isn’t that so cool? And Brauersgraben is a place in Germany. So, it’s pretty safe to say this is an antique German basket.
It makes me wonder what the gifts in the shipment were…
Anyway, I love antiques, but in order to use them in my home, they need to be clean. (You can read about some of my favorite methods for cleaning antiques in THIS POST.) This basket was dusty and I knew wetting it would also help in reshaping it.
A lot of people are nervous about just hosing off something like a basket or a piece of furniture, but that was really going to be the best way to clean this basket. I picked a warm, sunny, breezy day to haul it out on the driveway and give it a good rinse. (I had to warn Jeff, so he didn’t run over my basket as it was drying!)
I didn’t use any soap in this case, but I could’ve scrubbed it with something like Murphy Oil Soap if I felt it was necessary. Just rinsing it off and allowing it to dry in the sun took away any musty/dusty smell. The key with washing baskets, wood furniture, or other antiques made of natural materials, is to make sure they can dry quickly and completely. Sitting water is what causes damage to pieces. I pulled the basket over into the sun to speed up the drying process and to “sun it out.”
While it was still wet, I also took the opportunity to reshape the basket. I did some bending just with my hands, but that was only going to do so much. So, I decided to use wood clamps to hold the shape I wanted as it dried.
That did the trick! It’s still slightly warped, but it doesn’t look as “crunched” as it did when I bought it.
And, it looks (and smells) nice and clean, too!
It really is a beautiful basket. I love that there is the remainder of a label on one side and that the handles are still intact and in good condition.
Not long before I bought it, I actually said the words to my friend Cheri, “I do not need to buy any more baskets.” And then I snuck this antique German basket in at the last moment! (Not like she would’ve discouraged me!) There are just endless uses for good, sturdy beautiful baskets. They provide great storage in plain sight. These trunk-style antique baskets are also a good height to use as a sofa side table, which is what this one will be.
I tucked it in next to the sectional in the basement and it’s the perfect place to keep extra blankets for movie nights. I’ll likely top it with a flat tray so that we can also use it to set a drink on, etc.
Please tell me I’m not the only one with a basket “problem”…
I looked around on Etsy to see if I could find a similar basket, but I came up empty. I did find some other lovely pieces, though…