For several reasons, this is a very unusual basket. To start with a basic description, it is a very large (17" by 17" by 15 1/4"), square, covered splint basket from the Maine area, most probably made by the Penobscot Indian tribe. Many baskets of this type are of splint, colored with vegetable dyes. Some have the added design of potato stamped patterns on the splints.
This particular basket is done in vibrant tones of green, yellow, and natural brown. A sun motif was then potato stamped in orange on the slats. However, as a further embellishment, the stamped designs alternate with a hand painted design in blue, representing rain or snow. The combination of these decorative and meaningful features result in a very rare piece of Indian art.
The dating of this basket, which is much earlier than most found, is due to another unusual feature...the inside was lined with newspapers from the Maine-New Hampshire area, and several are dated in the 1850 time period. The papers, of course, are quite dry and brittle, and have fragmented and deteriorated. They could easily be removed, if one desired, as they flake off when touched.
Overall condition is better than very good, with several small breaks in some of the splints, the worst of which are shown in the pictures. There are no gaping holes or losses, and the overall visual impression is striking, with no flaws the eyes immediately go to. The top of the basket is of a somewhat duller color than the sides.
A wonderful example of Native American art, suitable for even the advanced collector, or as a stunning decorative object, sure to be a conversation piece.