Decorating with vintage tobacco baskets makes your home feel practical, earthy, and unrefined.
Tobacco baskets, once a useful product in the tobacco markets, have now become a favorite item for farmhouse decor enthusiasts across the country! These baskets are simple and pretty and are able to be incorporated into any design style. This post will help you understand where tobacco baskets came from, how they were first used, and give you some tips on decorating with vintage tobacco baskets in your home!
The first baskets were produced in Kentucky, however North Carolina became the primary basket manufacturer in the 1800’s. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is who initially came up with the idea of using these flat baskets to keep the tobacco clean, especially at auction where the floors were extremely dirty.
The baskets were made of oak that was split into strips and the rims having double the stripping. The strips were then soaked in boiling soda water to make them bendable. The bottoms were woven by machines and then another machine would attach the bottoms to the rims. Tobacco companies would then purchase the baskets and their names were stenciled onto the rims.
Packing the tobacco baskets took special skill. It had to be packed so that the tobacco would present well while also staying tightly secured on the basket. After the tobacco was picked, several leaves were bound together in what was called ‘hands’. The hands were tied onto a stick and hung up to dry. After curing, the leaves were taken off the stick, packed in the baskets and then they were off to market. The hands were typically arranged on the basket in a circular way with the stems out for a pretty presentation.
Tobacco Baskets Today
Antique stores yield great results for finding your own tobacco baskets. They come in various sizes, colors, and shapes and are so pretty to use as decor pieces. Some show more signs of wear than others but that just adds to the fine patina of the basket. Pricing for these can range from $30-well over $300 depending on the size, age, and condition as well as the maker.
Listed below are some of the ways you can incorporate these baskets into your home:
- create a gallery wall with various sizes and colors
- use it as a wall decor piece with a faux wreath centered in the middle
- find a long basket to hold greenery as a centerpiece on a table
- a small basket could be used in the bathroom to hold pony tail binders or headbands
- hang it on the wall and add a hook to the middle to hold hand towels or dish towels in a bathroom or kitchen
- use it on the kitchen counter to hold herbs or fruit
- you can use it in a seasonal way by displaying Christmas cards on it; just tuck the cards in between the weave
Tobacco baskets add texture and warmth to any space.
The wood element brings a sense of the outdoors into your home. The different tones of wood color that are present on each individual basket are so pretty and are able to match the mood of any space. If you like a more unrefined look, search for baskets that show more wear. Those are the ones that have had a long journey and now become a part of yours.
Let me know in the comments below what type of tobacco basket you would like in your home!
Great article Rachel! I had no idea the history behind the baskets. Thanks for the info.
It’s neat, isn’t it?
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