107 baskets have been initially selected for study in the Stakeholders project. These are baskets that have never been looked at by a basketmaker, or someone with expert knowledge. By and large, they are baskets which do not have one of Dorothy Wright’s ‘Catalogue of baskets’ forms (transcribed and scanned as part of A Sense of Place). With a few exceptions, they were all acquired by MERL after 1970.
107 seems like an awful lot of baskets for 10 makers to look at it in 2 days, so I’ve started the process of prioritising them. I haven’t used any set criteria for these, but have tried to take the following into account:
- Whether we already know something about the materials – bearing in mind that there could be errors
- Whether we already know something about the techniques – again bearing in mind that there could be errors
- Whether the basket has a complicated weave or combinations of weaves – I’m going on a course called ‘How to Read Baskets’ at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse in November where I’ll learn to recognise different materials and identify basic techniques
- Whether the basket is of particular interest for some reason – such as having an interesting use or provenance, or an unusual appearance etc.
There are some baskets which I’ve instantly catgegorised as low priority. These include:
- Spale baskets – the construction/techniques are obvious
- Assembly baskets (such as trugs and Devon splint baskets) – again, the construction/techniques are obvious
There are still some baskets I’m unsure about. For instance, 4 ‘Southport boat’ baskets are included in Stakeholders but are they all the same? Are they all made in the same way using the same construction/weave? Do we need to look at all of them or will one do? And how do I choose which one?
I’m still working on this process – I currently have about 55 in the high priority category (which seems a bit too many), 17 as medium priority, and 44 as low priority.