A very rare late 1800's basketry doll cradle. The fancy "bow ribbon" curl at the top of the cradle bonnet as well as the other types of ash curls and the X rim wrap over the top sides of the cradle indicate that this was Passamaquoddy made. While I have found a very few other fancy and early (1880-1920) doll cradles - none that I have seen have been this small or in near perfect condition as this one is. (Over the last 40+ years I have collected/bought/sold/appraised & seen 10's of thousands of antique and current Wabanaki baskets in private and museum collections) - see condition report above. The structure and weaving of this basketry doll cradle is perfect - there is some water spotting which is minimal and hard to see on sides of cradle and some on bottom wooden piece - see last photo.
This doll cradle basket was woven with brown ash splints, the traditional material of the Wabanaki basket makers - Wabanaki a federation of Maine, Vermont and Eastern Canadian Native Americans that includes the Abenaki, Maliseet, MicMac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. The rockers and bottom stabilizer are of cedar wood.
The cradle is 6.75" long, 4" wide, and 2.25" deep. The cradle bonnet with the center "bow ribbon" curl is 4" above the top of the cradle sides and it is 2.75" wide. The wooden rockers are 5.75" across and 1" deep at the center. So this cradle basket is 7.75" high from bottom of rocker to top of bow ribbon on the cradle bonnet.
Gaby Pelletier, Wabanaki material history consultant and author says "Very few basket doll’s cradles have survived because they were well used by little girls who were not always gentle with their toys. " This holds true for any antique Native American doll cradle or cradleboard. Along with the rarity of this size and age cradle basket - this one has some really unique fancy curl work! The pop up X rim wrap curls are lovely - and the bow ribbon on the top of the cradle bonnet is an eye catcher. But there are the other curls on the bonnet - the almost U shaped overlying curls that I have not seen on any other basket - and they make the bonnet something quite special. Look at all the photos in the slideshow to see this piece from every angle and to see closeups of the curl work... You aren't likely to see another like it! This is a piece that belongs at the center of your collection or - if you are to own only one antique Wabanaki basket and you want that one to be small and fancy and unusual - This is it!