While attending an antique fair in England about twelve years ago, I spotted this beautiful handbag. Can you believe it? Just look at how beautiful it is? This purse is French, dates from the late 1800's and is in fabulous condition. I loved everything about it - the dark brown leather, the rich brown reed, the palm-leaf work and the patina. What do you think happened after I found this purse? My endless search for European baskets had begun. There is something about their beautiful shapes, patina, the variety of plants used to make them, the many weaving patterns, and the fine details that truly make them a work of art. There are so many uses for baskets. As a matter of fact, I have a basket in every room in our house. Smaller ones are displayed on shelves, some sit on the floor with magazines, I use them in the bathroom to hold wash cloths, large baskets hold files, smaller baskets like these purses store photos or receipts..... they make wonderful containers for just about anything. Today, I am going to show you some of my collection of woven handbags.
This is a late 19th century French basket woven of flat skeins and has a beautiful brown leather handle and straps. The oval brass plates on the clasp are signed "Cordier". This basket would have been used as either a purse or a small picnic basket. This is definitely one of my favorites.
This long cylinder shaped basket was used to store a bottle of wine. It is similar to the first basket with its palm-leaf work, brown reed on the outside edges and leather handles. French, ca. 1920
I liked the variation of woven plant materials with a twisted rope and straw plait along with the dark brown lacquered reed. This basket is English, ca.1900. This photo below shows a close up detail of the scroll work on the brass plate on the clasp.
Here is another variation of woven handbags. This basket is English ca. 1930 with straw plaiting, a black woven braid and a very finely woven black plaiting combined with brown lacquered reed. A very interesting striking combination of colors and materials.
Again, this is another variation of palm leaf work with the contrasting leather trim and decorative brass plates as seen in the photo below.
This is a simple woven basket in an oval form with a dark brown leather handle. English, ca. 1910
Is it obvious that I really like the palm leaf work? Below is a close up photo of the clasp with the initials CL on the metal plate. This could be a basket to store doll related items as it is rather small.
French, ca 1920.
A simple variation - most likely English ca. 1950.
This is a small basket with a very interesting open weave pattern. French ca. 1920. While I seldom find European basket style handbags in the U.S., I do come across other forms of Euopean baskets. I always have room for another basket.
Below are some photos of basket handbags from the book International Basketry by Christopher Will.