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.

1940-1980

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

1980-present

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.

  • Nest of Three Rowland Folger Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $5,400
    Nest of Three Rowland Folger (1803-1883) Nantucket Baskets, of round form with double rim wrap and shaped swing handles riveted to a brass ear extending half-way to the base, each stenciled on the interior “R. Folger Maker Nantucket, Mass
    Heights 4 ½ in., 5 ¼ in. & 6 ¼ in. Diameters 6 ¾ in, 7 ¼ in & 8 ¾ in.

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  • Round Covered Swing Handle Nantucket Basket

    SOLD FOR $21,600
    Round Covered Swing Handle Nantucket Basket Attributed to Charles B. Ray (1798-1889) or Charles F. Ray (1826-1901), hinged round top with cut staves and woven in a sunburst pattern emanating from the central round scribed and carved disk, and knob to a flat oak rim, on a conforming swing handle basket.
    Height 7 in. Diameter 10 ¾ in.

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  • Nest of Seven Rowland Folger Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $24,000
    ***This item will appear in our August 5th Addendum***
    Nest of Seven Rowland Folger (1803-1883) Nantucket Baskets, mid 19th century, round form and dark patina, double wrapped rim, arched swing handle fastened to a cut metal ear, all stenciled “R. Folger Maker Nantucket, Mass.”
    Smallest Height 4 in. Diameter 6 in.
    Largest Height 8 ½ in. Diameter 12 ½ in.

    Provenance: Sold Rafael Osona Auctions, August 3rd 2002, lot 176; Sara Jo Kobacker Collection, Nantucket, MA

    Note: “Rowland Folger as a shop keeper and basket maker who sold and repaired useful objects, operating from a shop near his famous father’s dwelling in town. He lived his whole life on Nantucket.” Stuart M. Frank, “The Real R. Folger, Maker of Nantucket Baskets,” Antiques & the Arts Weekly, March 23, 2015.

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  • Ferdinand Sylvaro Round Open Swing Handle Basket

    SOLD FOR $1,680
    Ferdinand Sylvaro (1868-1952) Round Open Swing Handle Basket, circa 1900, with original paper label on base.
    Height 8 in. Diameter 11 in.

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  • Nest of Six Arthur D. Williams Nantucket Lightship Baskets

    SOLD FOR $33,000

    Nest of Six Arthur D. Williams (1867-1920) Nantucket Lightship Baskets, circa 1910-1920, oval form with shaped swing handles, copper riveted to a cut metal ear, single rim wrap, cane weavers, cherry base. Five interior baskets with hand written paper labels “Lightship Baskets Made by A.D. Williams, 120 Orange St. Nantucket Mass.”
    Largest Basket: H 7 ½ in. x 15 ½ in. x 12 ¼ in.
    Smallest: H 5 ½ in. x 7 ¾ in. x 6 in.

    Literature: Illustrated Katherine and Edgar Seeler Nantucket Lightship Baskets, 1972 plate #48

    Provenance: Katherine and Edgar Seeler Collection
    Rafael Osona Auction Sold 02 August 1997
    Sara Jo Kobacker Nantucket Basket Collection

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  • Nantucket Sewing Basket and Green Painted Nantucket Basket

    SOLD FOR $1,440
    Nantucket Oval Sewing Basket, circa 1900, single wrapped rim, two carved heart shaped handles, mahogany base.
    Height 3 ¼ in. Length 8 ½ in. Width 6 in.

    SOLD FOR $3,900
    Rare Green Painted Nantucket Basket, circa 1860, retaining original green paint, most likely used for picking berries, maker unknown.
    Height 6 in. Diameter 7 in.

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  • Rare Large Oval Double Handle Nantucket Basket

    SOLD FOR $6,000

    Rare Large Oval Double Handle Nantucket Basket, circa 1850, crisscross rim wrap, inscribed on the base “Lydia F. Coleman Presented to Her by Her Father, 1856; Lydia G. Cary from Mrs. Coleman, Feb. 17th 1859”.
    Height 5 ½ in. Length 11 ½ in.

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  • José Formoso Reyes Nantucket Picnic Basket

    SOLD FOR $3,600

    José Formoso Reyes (1902-1980) Nantucket Picnic Basket, circa 1950, deep rectangular form with hinged cane woven top and a conforming woven basket, a continuous wrapped double handle.
    Height 15 in. Length 17 in. Width 14 ½ in.

    Provenance: Rafael Osona Auctions,
    Sara Jo Kobacker, Nantucket, MA

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  • Jose Formoso Reyes Two Handle Waste Basket

    Jose Formoso Reyes (1902-1980) Two Handle Waste Basket, six concentric circles carved in the base, signed upon the base “Made in Nantucket, Jose Formoso Reyes
    Height 12 in. Diameter 13 ½ in.

    Sold for $2,645.00

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  • Pair of Paul Willer Nantucket Basket Woven Vases

    Pair of Paul Willer Nantucket Basket Woven Vases, with double handles.
    Height 11 ½ in. Diameter 4 ¾ in.

    Sold for $2,875.00

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  • World Record Nantucket Basket

    RARE HEART-FORM OPEN NANTUCKET LIGHTSHIP BASKET, last quarter of the 19th Century, the ends of the staves protrude through the hoops in the form of hearts, crisscross rim wrap, two concentric circles in base. Height 4 in. Diameter 9 1/8 in.

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  • Rare 19th C. Covered Nantucket Basket

    SOLD FOR $11,500.00 A rare Covered Nantucket Basket, mid 19th Century, attributed to the Ray Family, probably Charles B. Ray (1798-1884 a prolific basket maker, one of six brothers). A very unusual form as the lid swivels on a pin (not hinged) to protect the contents.
    Height 7 ½ in. Diameter 8 ¾ in.

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  • Two Susan Chase Ottison Bell Shaped Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $8,050.00 Two Susan Chase Ottison Round Bell Shaped Nantucket Baskets, signed upon the base.
    Height 6 in. Diameter 12 in.

    Provenance: Estate of Richard Mellon Scaife

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  • Nest of 7 Susan Chase Ottison Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $16,100.00 Nest of 7 Susan Chase Ottison Nantucket Round Swing Handle Baskets, signed upon the base.
    Largest: Height 6 in. Diameter 13 in.
    Smallest Height 3 in. Diameter 3 ½ in.

    Provenance: Estate of Richard Mellon Scaife

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  • Pair of Paul Willer Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $920.00 Pair of Paul Willer Nantucket Tall Narrow Swing Handle Baskets, signed upon the base Willer.
    Height 8 in.

    Provenance:> Estate of Richard Mellon Scaife

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  • Nest of 7 Karol Lindquist Nantucket Baskets

    SOLD FOR $8050.00 Nest of 7 Karol Lindquist Round Swing Handle Baskets, signed upon the bases
    Largest: Height 9 in. Diameter 13 ½ in.
    Smallest: Height 4 ½ in. Diameter 4 ½ in.

    Provenance:
    Estate of Richard Mellon Scaife

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  • Roland Folger (1848-1920) Nantucket Lightship Basket, circa 1870

    Shaped wood swing handle riveted to carved wood ears woven to body 6-courses from pine bottom plate, interior stenciled R. Folger, Maker, Nantucket, Mass. Height 7 in. Diameter 10 ¾ in.

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  • Rare Form Jose Formoso Reyes (1908-1980) Picinic Box, circa 1950-1960

    In two sections.  The upper with rectangular pine panel and leather closing straps, removable from lower open section of conforming shape flanked by broad handle supports.  Height 11 ¼ in. Width 9 ½ in. Depth 5 ½ in.

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  • Rare Nantucket Compote Basket By Captain Thomas James (1811-1895), circa 1880

    Thomas James Captain of the South Shoal 1872-1882, a shaped round open basket with 3 concentric circles and 8 concentric scribe lines on a round inverted woven pedestal base.  Height 6 in. Diameter 11 ¾ in. Provenance:  Fred Gardner Collection.

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  • Captain Thomas James (1811-1885) Rare Nantucket Wool Gathering Basket, 19th Century

    Never before seen form, double handles, double bent staves, walnut bottom.  Thomas James, once a whaler was Captain of the South Shoal Lightship 1872-1882.  H 12 in. W 28 ½ in. D 25 ½ in.

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  • Arthur D. Williams (1867-1920) Fine Covered Nantucket Basket

    Wood knob on lid, swing handle with blank brass owner’s name plate.  Height 8 in. Diameter 10 in.

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  • Scarce Nantucket Basket By Arthur D. Williams (1867-1920)

    Round swing handle basket with conforming hinged pagoda cover, poplar base plate with 4 interior concentric circles.  The exterior bears a partial hand written paper label “Lightship Basket Made by A.D. ________ 120 O_______, Nantucket”.  The shaped swing handle attached with cut brass ears and mounted with a brass plaque bearing owner’s name “Leila Carlisle”.  Leila purchased this basket from A.D. Williams than bequeathed all her collection to Edgar and Katherine Seeler in the 1920’s.  This fine basket comes to the market for the first time.  Height 7 in. Diameter 10 in.

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  • Rare Nantucket Alms Basket, circa 1910

    With inlaid rim and base.  Height 5 in. Diameter 13 in.

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  • Extremely Rare Samuel Crawford (b. 1827) Labeled Baleen & Cane Woven Nantucket Lightship Basket, circa 1850

    Round form with swing handle, rare baleen staves, four interior concentric rings in base, original paper label on bottom “Made by S.C. Crawford, Nantucket, Mass”.  H 4 in., Diameter 8 ¼ in.

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  • Rare Nest Of 8 Nantucket Round Swing Handle Baskets, Attributed to Andrew Jackson Sandsbury (1830-1902), circa 1890

    From smallest to largest:  Height 3 ½ in. Diameter 5 in.;  Height 8 in. Diameter 13 ½ in.  Sandsbury who “sailed around the horn twice” enjoyed a career on the sea first as a Boatsteerer on the Sea Queen out of Westport, then as 2nd Mate aboard the ship Nautilas of New Bedford, then as Mate on the Nantucket New South Shoal Lightship, and lastly sailed on the bark Spartan out of New Bedford.  After the Spartan sailing he rejoined the crew on the South Shoal Lightship from 1872-1892.  During “downtime” aboard the lightship he wove Nantucket lightship baskets alongside Davis Hall.  Sold for $40,600.00  August 4, 2012

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  • Rare Captain Thomas James (1811-1885) Nantucket Round Swing Handle Basket, 2nd Half of the 19th Century

    Cane woven body with shaped swing handle, mahogany interior plate with 7 scribe lines and 3 concentric circles.  Ink inscription on base: “Presented to Mary A. Wilson at Nantucket Sept. 15, 1905 by Billy Clark – Made by Capt. Tho’s L. James on the South Shoal Light Ship”.  Height 6 ½ in. Diameter 14 in.

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