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Jose Reyes Nantucket Basket
Jose Formoso Reyes "Cocktail Purse" Nantucket Basket, circa 1950, a diminutive free-woven basket (without using a mold), with hexagonal creel-shaped pine bottom and top plates, cane staves and weaves in a slight, graceful bombe (swelled belly) shape, braided leather shoulder strap, and carved ebony sperm whale and latch peg by Charlie Sayles, signed on the bottom "Made In Nantucket, Jose Formoso Reyes" with an inscribed outline of Nantucket Island.
The basket looks like it was barely ever used, and remains in excellent original condition, with no darkening from age in spite of having been woven 70 years ago. The leather shoulder strap has partially worn through on one side at point of attachement, which will be a very quick and easy restoration.
Reyes baskets are of course the most sought after of all the Nantucket purses (he invented the form in the late 1940s). His very early baskets, free woven without a mold, are extremely rare and exceptionaly prized: this one has the great creel shape as well as the fantastic slight swell to the belly. The diminutive "cocktail" size is scarce and the most sought after today, The barely used color and condition is incredible. All together, the various factors make this a once in a lifetime basket, and without doubt the finest Reyes on the market.
The ebony whale is a further prize, carved by Charlie Sayles, a Nantucket fisherman and folk artist who came up with the idea and carved the very first objects to adorn the leds of Nantucket Baskets... ebony whales! The fact that there is no whale ivory at all on this very early basket provides a rare opportunity to purchase a Nantucket piurse that can be exported with ease.
5 1/4 in H x 7 in L x 5 3/4 in W