Rare American Painted Tin Bread Basket, Stevens Plains, Maine, C. 1810
Presented here, a rarity in American Painted Tin from Stevens Plains, Maine. The pierced or reticulated Bread Basket is a very rare form as not that many were made. As the piercing was punched by hand, the process was quite labor intensive and most likely too time consuming for the tinsmith to consider pierced pieces as standard items in his inventory. Strawberries, Double Cherries and bold bright Tulips with overtone painting in red and yellow fill the bottom of the black painted Bread Basket. A simple, but effective "comma" border is found at the top rim and around the bottom as well as under the cutout handles . . . a mark of good artistic design as anything more elaborate would have been overkill. The reticulated sides are the stars of the show here.
Stevens Plains was situated in southern Maine in what once included Falmouth, Westbrook, Deering, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, South Portland and many of the Casco Bay Islands. Over the years there were many boundry distributions and now what was known as Stevens Plains is the flat land situated on what is now Stevens Avenue, running between what is known locally as Morrill's Corner and Woodford Street. Stevens Plains is named after Zachariah Brackett Stevens whose family (Brackett) first settled there in 1740. He started the tin industry there on what used to be part of the family farm in 1800 or so. As his business flourished it attracted other craftsmen to the area and Stevens Plains became a thriving community with other tradesmen moving there from other parts of the country to set up shop.
The painted tinware from Stevens Plains is much admired by collectors. It has its own unique "look" and artistic design. This particular piece is in exceptional condition with its fine original surface and paint. While there is the expected craquelure to the paint, surprisingly it is mostly there with very little loss and what loss there is is on the sides not on the painted decoration. The painted decoration is bright and bold and the colors are strong. Rarely do we find early 19th Century painted Tinware in this condition. Simply wonderful!
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