Ten Things You Didn't Know: Bride's basket

The issue of finding the perfect wedding gift that plagues wedding guests today was less so in the 19th century, when a bride's basket was the go-to gift. Learn more about bride's baskets and their popularity among collectors.
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Compiled by Antoinette Rahn

1 Bride’s basket is a modern moniker for something often referred to as cake, berry or fruit bowls or baskets. This made perfect sense since those are the types of items one would expect to find in the baskets.

Beginning of the Bride's Basket

2 The baskets grew out of the popular wedding protocol. The act of bestowing gifts of silver during

Double bride's basket

Double bride's basket, boasting a silver frame and a pair of art glass bowls, realized $16,520 during an auction at Woody Auction. (Photo courtesy Woody Auction)

ceremonial events, like a wedding. Hence the name bride’s basket. However, before the baskets would become popular wedding gifts, they served important purposes. Especially during lavish weddings during the early-to-mid 19th century. The palatial baskets, then often made of coin or sterling silver, would hold flower petals scattered by flower girls. The basket would also sit atop the wedding party’s table during the reception, to display a bride’s bridal bouquet.

3 Silver manufacturers saw the potential for a greater market if a bride’s basket was more affordable. This realization prompted many companies to use silver plate instead of coin or sterling silver. Glass companies saw the boom associated with bride’s baskets and acted. Shortly before the turn of the 20th century, glass bowls started appearing and were paired with the silver plated baskets.

Fashionable, Even If for a Short Time

4 A most appealing bride’s baskets during the short period of time they were largely in fashion (1860s-1910s), and in the eyes of modern-day collectors, is the double bride’s basket. At auction in October 2014, a pair of antique ruffled art glass bowls featuring enamel pear branch décor, set upon a Pairpoint frame boasting a design of cherubs riding turtles, sold for $16,520 with buyer’s premium, through Woody Auction.

5 It was common practice for silver companies to purchase glass baskets to pair with the silverplate stands they produced, and vice versa for glass companies.

Elements Add to Appeal

6 On rare occasions, the frame of a bride's basket would be made from brass, bronze or pewter, but by and large silver was the preferred material.

7 A silver bride’s basket manufactured by the Mauser Mfg. Co., in the early 20th century, weighing 28 oz. 16 dwt., sold for $1,134 at auction in November 2014 through Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. The bride’s basket features a flaring rim with scrolls and roses applied at intervals, with pierced sides depicting bellflowers and lattice.

Fit Aids in Identifying Pairs or Marrieds

Silverplate-framed bride's basket

Bride’s basket with enamel decorated bowl painted with flowers, atop a silverplate frame, late 19th century, sold for $1,980 in 2012.(Photo courtesy Omaha Auction Center)

8 Although many cut-glass bowls, frames and plates were sold as singular bride’s basket examples, in today’s marketplace seasoned collectors advise checking the ‘snugness’ of the glass insert to confirm the authenticity of the pairing. If the glass bowl can easily be moved within the stand, the bride's basket is not a pure pairing and instead was ‘married’ sometime during its history.

9 One of the largest bride’s baskets to ever cross the auction block sold for $5,310 (with buyer’s premium) during Woody Auction’s October 2014 auction. The basket measured 28 inches high and 16 inches in diameter and featured a cased art glass ruffled bowl with pink interior shading to white, with a vine design and an amber applied glass rim on the bowl. The silverplate stand featured the figure of a child holding a cornucopia above the head.

10 Some of the manufacturers that produced bride’s baskets include Pairpoint, Reed & Barton, Meriden, Mt. Washington, Moser, and Webb.


Sources: TheRibbonInMyJournal.com; MyOldHistoricHouse.blogspot.com; www.dressedherdaysvintage.com