Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tobacco Baskets

Last weekend my hubby took my Mom and I to The Simple Goods Show.  It is the second time we have been there and had a great time.  I came across several items that caught my eye, but this was on item that really peaked my interest.  I actually fell in love with it when I first saw it, but wasn’t really sure where I would put it.  I though that I could take something off my wall and then hang the tobacco basket up or just find a new spot.  Well, I have three particular spots in the running for this wonderful tobacco basket, but still have yet to make up my mind.  Do you ever find yourself buying things and then trying to finding a spot for it.  Yep, it must be a “prim” thing (lol).  Anyway, I thought I would share some pictures of my tobacco basket and a little history about them.

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Some baskets “might” be antiques, but believe it or not some were used all the way up to 1980.  These basket were used to display tobacco taken to market.  The leaves are normally picked by hand, starting at the bottom of the stalk.   In the old days, the leaves were then carried to the tobacco barn where they were hand-tied onto sticks about 3 feet long. The sticks were then placed in tiers in the tobacco barn. A fire was lit and the leaves were cured to a rich golden color in the barn. When the sticks were removed from the barn, the leaves were then sorted by size and original location on the stalk of tobacco. Tips are from the top of the plant; cutters, about half as long as your arm, are from the center of the stalk; lugs are from the bottom. There are 216 different grades of tobacco. After sorting and grading, the leaves were tied into "hands." A hand of tobacco weighed about 1 pound if made of tips or lugs and about 2 - 3 pounds if made from cutters. A hand of tobacco is a group of leaves tied together at the stem end. The end is wrapped in another cured leaf. The hands were then laid in the tobacco basket in a circle with the stem ends pointing to the outside. The baskets were then loaded and taken to the tobacco warehouse where they were sold at auction.  At the warehouse, the baskets would be stacked about two high to reach a pile weight of 250 pounds of flue-cured tobacco. The baskets were made from hand-rived oak, primarily in Yadkin County, NC. The oak strips are nailed together. The open spaces in the center of each side are to allow room for a hook to be attached. The hook was used to pull the baskets onto the scales and to load the baskets into trucks after the sale. The baskets were owned by the warehouse or the Board of Trade, a consortium of tobacco companies. The company name was stenciled onto the edge of the basket. Baskets are no longer used in the warehouses of the south. They have been replaced by burlap sheets. Baskets are still used in the markets in Maryland. You are now more likely to encounter a tobacco basket in an antique store or see one hung on chimney as a decorative device. Some baskets are hung on walls inside homes and used to display memorabilia or flower arrangements or other decorative items.

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So, are you ready to see some close up pictures of my tobacco basket?

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I absolutely LOVED the red and blue on the end of the basket.  I thought it would match my colors in my family room perfectly.  The basket isn’t perfect by any means, but that is what makes it unique.  Don’t ya think?

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Wouldn’t you love to know the history behind this basket?  You wonder where it has been and who carried it?  I always think about things so in depth sometimes.  I guess my mind is always wandering and that makes it hard to shut it down (lol).

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I pulled these pics off the Valley Voice website.  Aren’t they so neat all piled up?  Gotta love all the different colors!

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You wonder why the different colors?  Guess that leaves more time for my mind to keep thinking (lol).  If I find out or you know then leave me a note.  I would love to hear from you.  Well, I hope you all enjoyed the pictures.  I leave you with one last picture of my tobacco leaves.

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Do you have an old tobacco basket?  If you do then you should share some pictures.  I would love to see it.

As for endorsing tobacco products…. I am not a smoker, never have been a smoker and never will be a smoker.  Oh and I will never be a chewer either.  Eww, yuck!!  I guess you could just say that I enjoy the history behind it and decorating with it. 

Until Next Time ~ Blessings, Lisa

9 comments:

Primsue said...

Lisa, I love your tobacco basket. I had one several years ago and gave it away - wish I had it back now. I know that wherever you display it it will look great.

Blessings,
Sue

Grammee Linda - Behind My Red Door said...

I have a tobacco basket from NC. I bought it last year ..I just had to have it because way back in 1974 David first proposed to me in NC in a tobacco town where he was sent by his job! He was living in the middle of a tobacco field!

I could not find a spot inside for mine. It's a bit too rustic and too big. But I am using it outside and it is perfect there!

Since mine was not right for inside, I bought one of Pam's smaller ones and it is perfect in my living room!

Enjoy your wherever you put it! Hugs!

Enjoy yours!

Linda ★ Parker's Paradise said...

I do not have one but I am always on the lookout. I would love to display one! ★Linda★

Susann said...

What a great story! I love baskets of all kinds and I am now on the lookout for a tobacco basket!! I don't have a blog, but I am reading more all the time. Love yours. Guess I will become a follower. Thanks !

bettyj said...

Lisa I have a couple. One is on my the old smoke house original to my property. The other is stored in the barn. You can see mine on my PT, which you can click on my blog!
I love the red, white, blue paint on the one!
betty, through my back door

Wonder said...

My mother just allowed me to take one of her baskets home with me after my visit to the family farm in KY. The farm grew tobacco for almost 100 years. I am so glad to have found your info about them. Where was that big stack of them in your picture? Are they still available for reasonable prices?
Thanks so much,

Duane

Christie L said...

Where did you get the tobacco leaves? I have been looking for some for awhile now. I also wanted to ask someone who had hanging tobacco leaves if they have a smell? Just wondering if they smelled like tobacco! I love your blog. Come visit me someday.
christie

Anonymous said...

I have a basket hanging in my garage. I am looking for a way to decorate it. I grew up stripping tobacco for money. This wss many moons ago. We would tie them in 'hands' the way your tobacco is hanging. I can't tell how big yours is, but ours for selling had to be as many as we could hold in our hand. And we had to use a big wide long 'lug' leaf to tie them together. My dad told me that the colors on the baskets were used to designate which warehouse in which you were selling your tobacco. In our area in Kentucky we did not own the baskets, the warehouse did. The seller took all his tobacco to the warehouse and the warehouse would put a basket on top the product you unloaded. You took a hand or two of what you considered the best example of your tobacco, and you un-tied it in the basket. The buyers could then come by and touch and feel, and sometimes taste, your product. Sometime the seller would put his children or a good looking girl on top his stack of tobacco. This may get attention from the buyers and raise your selling price a penny or so a pound. And every penny counted! Stripping tobacco into hands was long hard work in a born that was heated with a pot belly coal stove. For every family member that you could get to help, that was one less person you had to pay to do the job. Thanks for the pictures, they are great!!!

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