© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
Half-melon shaped willow baskets were first created and exhibited by an Eastern European farm hand who worked for Charles Jones, the owner an 18th century house in old Deerfield. Soon both Dr. Edwin Thorn and his brother-in-law Charles Franklin learned how to construct willow baskets, and by 1908 a half dozen others knew the craft as well. Willow baskets were offered by the Deerfield Basket Makers in a range of sizes, some large enough to hold firewood. The Society of Deerfield Industries promoted the willow basket as "suggestive...of the olden time...[with an] overseas flavor of the peasant type...ideal for use in the country home."1 A similar basket to the one pictured above can be seen in Mary Allen's photograph of Eastern European farmers The Onion Harvest.
The Deerfield Basket Makers created and shared an instruction book containing the patterns to all of their baskets. "to promote better work and as a matter of convenience each worker may have her specialty, which by courtesy we will all recognize as hers, but there shall be no exclusive rights, and we own these directions in common."2