Item/Auction Attributes

Mid 19th century.
Very good as-found condition, handle slightly lopsided, wear to top of rim, small loss to base edge adjacent to one handle terminal, interior lining is fragile and with some losses.
7" HOA, 3 7/8" H rim, 6" x 7 5/8" rim.
Provenance: A totally fresh-to-the-market example recently discovered in a thrift shop in southwestern Virginia.
Catalogue Note: The discovery of the present key basket raises the count to roughly eleven examples of these very distinct key baskets recorded. However, this is the only specimen featuring cut-out decorative elements making it unique at this time. Other examples reside in the collections of the Museum of American Folk Art, Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (Virginia Historical Society), and the Lynchburg (VA) Museum. Nearly all from the group have Richmond area provenances. Most have initials within their designs at one end representing their original owner; one has provenance indicating it was a wedding present with the initials matching those of the bride. Two display additional initials "G. F." tooled into their bottoms, presumably for the maker. Dr. Wright located two Richmond boot and shoemakers as possible candidates: George Friday who lived and worked at his shop on Broad Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets in 1859-1860, and G. Freitag who was listed on Front Street between Huges and Royal Streets in 1860.
Literature: See MESDA Journal, May 1982, pp. 49-61, R. Lewis Wright, "Key Baskets", figs. 2-5 for examples by the same maker and for a discussion of this group. Parallels Hollander - American Radiance, p. 178, fig. 146 (ex-Deyerle collection); Morton - Southern Antiques and Folk Art, p. 152 (Colonial Williamsburg); and Sotheby's - The Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Henry P. Deyerle, 5/27/95, lot 607.