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Jose Reyes Nantucket Basket, circa 1950
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, carved wooden swing handle with brass rivets, carved ebony sperm whale by Charlie Sayles, and whittled wooden latch peg, signed on the bottom "Made In Nantucket, Jose Formoso Reyes" with an inscribed outline of Nantucket Island.
The basket has obviously been well used and loved, and developed a great strong darkened patina over its 70 years of life. The conditiobn remains very strong and almost entirely original, with only the expected replaced hinges and latch loop (they only last about ten years if used often), and perhaps restoration to a few weaves and some rim wrap.
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 great dark patina gives it that desirable obvious early age. All together, the various factors make this an exceptional opportunity.
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.
6 in H x 7 in L x 5 1/4 in W