• Important American Furniture,  auction at Christies

    Sale 2200

    Important American Furniture, Folk Art & Prints

    30 September 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    A Set of Eight Nesting Round Swing-Handle Lightship Baskets


    Price Realised  


    A Set of Eight Nesting Round Swing-Handle Lightship Baskets
    Attributed to Andrew J. Sandsbury (1830-1902), Nantucket, 1867-1869
    the largest 15½ in. high, 13 in. diameter (8)

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    The first lightship baskets were crafted at sea by the sailors working on the vessels stationed off the coast of Nantucket's South Shoals. Starting in the early 19th Century these strategically anchored ships were essentially floating lighthouses warning passing boats of the dangerous shoals and rocky coastline. These iconic baskets were expertly woven by the men who inhabited these lightships not only as a task to break the monotony of their days on board, but as an opportunity to earn a supplemental income. Captain Andrew J. Sandsbury (1830-1902) worked on the famous Nantucket South Shoal Lightship from 1867-69. It is during these two years spent at sea he would have produced the present lot of eight nesting baskets. These eight baskets are superb examples of the precision, talent and skill required for the Captain to construct the standard of quality he was well-known for producing during his lifetime. Upon his return to the mainland, he would have sold a set such as this one for $50, single smaller baskets would have sold for $1.50 only. In the beginning of the 20th Century, the sailors ceased to make these baskets, and weavers on the mainland took over the trade.

    Pre-Lot Text