American Baskets is the first book to offer a comprehensive overview of an art form that is ten thousand years old. Basketmaking is the most basic of all crafts in its methods and material, and its development reflects specifically local traditions. Here, author Robert Shaw ("the information source on major U.S. crafts" -- Booklist) examines the craft's history and artistry throughout the country and through various periods.Once among the most common of household objects, handmade baskets have a cachet that has never been equaled. Despite the fact that the American artisan basket has all but disappeared from daily use (the baskets that we have in our homes today are either made from synthetic materials, often by machine, or imported from overseas where labor is cheap), the genuine example of a handcrafted basket is highly prized as a beautiful and valuable object. Baskets are fixtures in the popular style of country decorating, and collectors search out fine antiques as well as outstanding contemporary basket creations. American Baskets celebrates the treasures of yesterday while exploring the work of many of the fine artists who labor over the art form today.Beautifully photographed and exhaustively researched, American Baskets analyzes the influences of both Native Americans and early settlers, including the Aleuts and Hopi as well as the Quakers and Pennsylvania Dutch. The significant contributions of early African-American East Coast culture and the rich heritage of rural Appalachia are also discussed. Paying special attention to the collectible aspect of the American basket, Robert Shaw investigates every type of basket indigenous to this country: ash splint farm baskets, rattan "lightship" baskets, rye straw baskets, African-American rush baskets, and more. A resource guide listing museums that house basket exhibits, antiques dealers and auction houses that sell high-quality pieces, and traditional basket artisans and organizations completes the elegant package.