Splint Basket


Categories Welcome Case
Theme(s) Arts and crafts,
Farming and agriculture
Collection Harvesting Objects
Date 1991
Object number 91/38
  • Description

These splint baskets were highly popular in North Devon before World War 2. They were used for a wide variety of purposes, such as feeding cattle, and carrying apples and potatoes. This specific basket would not have used in the field. Instead, it was made and sold by Jack Rowsell, who made around 25 – 50 of these per year. He learnt the skill from his father, a farm worker from Uplowman, and believed himself to be one of the last traditional splint basket makers. The MERL interviewed him when the basket was purchased.

Splint basket making was not only traditional to Devon. Splint basket-making was a skill mastered by the Wabanaki Native American people of Maine, with an organization and efficiency which arguably surpassed the process in Europe. In 1900, a census suggested that two thirds of Penobscot people primarily made their living from making and selling baskets, and making splint baskets was an integral social aspect of communities.