Baskets were an important part of the Amana communal society. Women and men became quite adept at crafting baskets out of willow. These baskets are treasured today. The rare photo shows ladies dressed in Amana calico with sunbonnets cleaning onions for the communal kitchens. Note the three willow baskets in the foreground.
These Amana baskets were used for utilitarian purposes. They were extremely sturdy; thus, many remain today. I remember as a child having a "potato cellar" in the basement where my mother stored potatoes she had brought in from the garden over the winter in antique Amana willow baskets.
This smaller basket with a bentwood handle has a decorative touch with a small band of peeled willow at the top. It was no doubt used to bring home meals prepared at the communal kitchens.
A small peeled willow basket has the center section stained in purple to be used as an Easter basket to collect eggs at Easter. Hard to find!
Made completely of peeled willow, its intended use was not as a laundry basket, but for a baby!
The Amana Colonies in Iowa, where my sister and I grew up, is a religious community founded in the mid 1800s by people fleeing religious persecution in Germany. The community was self-sufficient with no need to venture into the outside world. As a result, the German language was spoken almost exclusively well into the early 1900s. It was as if a piece of Germany had been transplanted right in the middle of the United States. Residents not only brought the language with them, but the crafts and traditions they were raised with in Germany as well. All that continued in the Amanas and flourished. The tinsmith was a very important craftsman. A handful of men in the community created the items used in everyday life. The sprinkling can with blue paint is an early Amana tin piece treasured today.
Huge tin colanders were a staple in every communal kitchen in the Amanas used for cleaning the produce brought in from the massive communal gardens every summer.
Kitchens were stocked with colanders, buckets, pitchers, molds, utensils, cookie cutters, and on and on. The Amana "running rabbit" cookie cutters were found in every kitchen . . .
My thanks to Carol Schuerer Zuber for allowing me to share the above photo and the photo of the Amana painted tin lunch basket from her collection!
Welcome to Living Tastefully’s “Antique of the Week” page. Our love of antiques is reflected in every aspect of our everyday lives. We are passionate about collecting and also love functional antiques that can actually be used and not only admired. Hopefully we can inspire you to incorporate antiques in your home and your life to add charm and beauty to your surroundings.