Nantucket Baskets

Rafael Osona Auctions keeps breaking our own record for prices realized for the sale of Nantucket Lightship and Friendship Baskets, including a nest of three Isaac Hamblin ovals, two A.D. Williams miniature covered baskets, a 19th c. feather basket, and an unsigned, rare, 19th c. heart embellished open basket that topped the charts, with a hammer price of $115,000. Our galleries have offered more exceptional examples of this unique art form than anyone, worldwide.

Rafael is founding President of the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum where fine examples may be found in their annual exhibits.

Unique to Nantucket in both style and craftsmanship, Nantucket Baskets were first made by crewmen aboard the Nantucket lightships.  Utilitarian in purpose, early baskets were typically open, with fixed or swing handles. When the Commonwealth banned the making of baskets aboard ship as “moonlighting,” weavers moved their basket making to land, and began weaving for commercial trade – with prices from 75 cents to .25 – and passed their craft down to the present day.

In the late 1940s José Formoso Reyes designed the first covered Friendship basket. Intended for use as a purse, its hinged cover was woven around a plaque, in a technique similar to that of weaving the basket around a wooden base that is secured to a mold.  The Reyes Friendship Basket was born, and the demand to own one was and remains profound.

Today’s craftsmen and women have elevated the tradition to a fine art. The simple adornments of Friendship Baskets made by Reyes and his peers – ivory whales, gulls and maps of Nantucket – have made way for intricacies of style, materials and design the early weavers would never have imagined.

Nantucket Basket Makers – Lightship Era

1856 – early 20th c.

Captain Davis Hall, Captain Andrew Sandsbury, Roland Folger, Thomas W. Barralay, William D. Appleton, George W. Ray, Charles F. Ray, Frederick Ray, Joseph Fisher, Charles Sylvia, and Isaac Hamblin.

Post Lightship Era 1900-1940

Mitchy Ray, Fredrick Chadwick, A.D. Williams, William D. Appleton, Ferdinand Sylvaro.


José Formoso Reyes, Sherwin Boyer, Stanley Roop, Stephen Gibbs, John Kittila, John Elder


Paul Whitten, Bill and Judy Sayle, Trish and Dick Anderson, Paul Willer, Michael Kane, Nap Plank, Alan Reed, Karol Lindquist, Susan and Karl Ottison, Kathleen Myers, Tim Parsons, Peter Finch, Donna & Dick Cifranic, Terry Sylvia…

Rafael Osona is the single largest source for Nantucket Baskets.


We are always seeking fine quality consignments to include in our sales.

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Recent Examples at Auction