#ATB2 Small Antique Tobacco Basket (Made In USA)
Regular price $82.99Inventory: 1
A little history on these baskets....
An online search for tobacco baskets today turns up pictures of them hanging over fireplaces or adorning bedroom walls. Decorators hang them square or diagonally and display them face-up or bottom-up.
Some people hang them tattered and missing slats. Others get more creative, and use the basket as the center of a photo or folk-art display.
In Yadkin County, the tobacco basket factories are gone.
Bud Miller, who is 88, still makes a small number, in all different sizes, from time to time in an old building full of rusting machinery and wood splits still stacked from when they were gathered and cut years ago.
"We have not made any since the summer before last," Miller said. "There ain't anybody making these splits. It used to be just about everybody in the county would make splits. They were all rove out by hand. Up until 10 or 15 years ago, people were doing the splits."
A family tradition
Miller is the son of J. Anderson Miller, who started J.A. Miller Basket Co. in 1945.
Tobacco historian Billy Yeargin said the idea for tobacco baskets started right here in Winston-Salem about 1880 when R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. decided it had to keep its product cleaner.
This was a time of dirt roads and dirty floors. Oxen or horses brought the tobacco to market on wagons.
"They had to have something to protect the product from that filth on the floor — not only from bringing it in, but the buyer had to have a way to get it out and store it," Yeargin said.
The baskets seemed the perfect solution, Yeargin said.
But why Yadkin? Some say the oak there was more pliable than in other locales and worked better for the baskets. Yeargin thinks Yadkin became the center because the early basket-makers were from that area.
Basket-makers depended on farmers to make the splits that they used to assemble the baskets, said Felix McKnight, who with his father and brother made baskets from 1947 as J.M. McKnight and Sons Inc.
A farmer would cut an oak log in half, then quarter it. The thin splits they made from the log with the froe were bought by basket makers at 2 or 3 cents per split.