Reticulated Bread Basket, Stevens Plains, ME
This is a lovely American Painted Tin Bread Basket from Stevens Plains, Maine. The floor of the basket is decorated with very realistic Rosebuds, Forget-me-nots, and charming Sprays of White Flowers. Tendrils in green fill in the empty spaces. The overall effect is that of delicacy. The border is composed of red and green undulating leaf like decorations with red dots.
A plausible candidate for the decorating is Sarah (Rose) Brisco (1772-1822), the wife of Thomas. She was the daughter of Edward Rose and Mary Revere. She had been trained under the guidance of her uncle, Paul Revere who was also known to work in tin as well as other metals. It is speculated that Thomas Brisco was most likely in business with Zachariah Stevens, both of whom would have been making tinware during the early stages of this soon-to-be-thriving industry. Thomas was also a peddler who traveled his route in a two wheeled cart. As cash money was not readily available from many customers, bartering became the way of doing business which necessitated the opening of a general store to sell the bartered wares. It appears that this was a far-reaching "family business" and worked well for all concerned. It is almost certain that Zachariah, the founder of the Tin Industry in Stevens Plains was not the decorator as his occupation in the various census records list him as a blacksmith and a shopkeeper. It is difficult to imagine the large calloused hands of a blacksmith being able to accomplish the fine brushwork of dainty flowers. It should also be remembered that early accounts of tinware decoration refer to the fact that the young ladies did the "flowering". All this points to Sarah or Sally (her niece), whose favorite decoration was the rose.
The delicate basket is of a smaller size than most, being only 11-3/4" long and 6-1/2" wide. It is in remarkable condition for a piece almost 200 years old. The paint is 99% intact and the decoration is truly wonderful. Reticulated baskets, by their very nature of construction are exceedingly rare as they were very labor intensive to make and so not many exist. Combine a rare form with the wonderful decoration and you have an example of American Painted Country Tin that would grace any collection.
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