Extremely rare and important nest of eight Nantucket baskets by Davis Hall. Seven of the eight basket retain Davis Hall’s original paper labels which are affixed the back of the bottom of each basket. All of the baskets have beautifully shaped tapered oak swing handles with brass hinges. All of the baskets have round mahogany bases with two concentric circular tunings on the top surface. The style and shape of the handles and tuned bases is very standard amongst most known Davis Hall baskets. The baskets have oak ribs and rims. The cane wevers that lace between the oak ribs are woven very tightly and uniformly. All of the handles are attached to the baskets with brass fittings that are woven into the sides of the basket. The metal ears allow the handles to swing 180 degrees. The quality of each basket is excellent given Davis Hall was one of the most talented makers. All of the baskets have a true round shape and straight sides. When nested the baskets fit inside one another very tightly and the height when nested is almost even on all eight baskets at the top. (FA-1082)
Condition: The baskets are in fine condition and do not seem to have any missing weave nor any replacements. The labels all show minor ware and some have minor losses to their edges. One basket is missing its label but there is an obvious shadow in the wood the exact size of the other labels showing where was once affixed.
Dimensions of the Eight Baskets from largest to smallest.
Height of Height to Width
13 7/8 8 ½ 13
13 ¼ 7 ½ 11 ½
12 7 10 ¼
10 ½ 6 ¼ 8 ¾
9 ½ 5 ½ 7 1/2
8 ¼ 5 ¼ 6 ½
7 ¼ 4 ¾ 5 ½
6 ½ 4 ¼ 4 ¾
Note: Davis Hall was born in Hanson, Massachusetts, to Davis Hall Sr. and Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Gould. He never knew his father, a mariner who died around the time Davis Jr. was born. His mother Betsy returned to Barnstable County, eventually marrying another mariner, Joseph D. Patterson in 1840. Davis had one older sister, Eliza Ann “Betsy” Hall (who married Francis Sylvia, a Portuguese mariner from the Azores) and four half-sisters from his mother’s second marriage. Sometime in the 1840s the family moved to Nantucket. Oral family history tells us that Davis sailed on the first clipper ship to go around the horn of South America to take easterners to the Gold Rush. We know that Davis did indeed sail aboard the Henry Astor from Nantucket to San Francisco in September 1849 and again aboard the schooner Mary and Emma in December 1849.
Before marrying Lydia Gifford, Davis worked on the lifeboats, seemingly with his stepfather Joseph Patterson. Davis’ name is mentioned in the reward lists for several maritime rescues between 1852 and 1860. During his service, Davis improved the design of the lifeboats, making them bi-directional so they would not have to be turned around between launches. This design was known as the “Davis Lifeboat.”
Davis joined the Union Army during the Civil War in 1862. He fought in North Carolina at the battle of Kinston. He was wounded by a gunshot near the spine. After 2½ months he retired with injuries and chronic illnesses that were common for the men who fought in the southern swamps. He used the money he received from his Civil War service and disability to purchase the house on 28 North Water St. for his growing family. Davis and Lydia had seven children, Ida Frances Hall Lewis Russell (1854-1904), Ann Maria Hall Beebe (1859-1886), Elmer Harvey Hall (1864-1908?), Charles Macy Hall (1867-1940), an unnamed twin for Charles who died shortly after birth, Mabel Hall Kelley Bowie (1873-1939), and Mina Hall (1878) who died as a baby.
After the Civil War, Davis took a job on the South Shoal Lightship where he cultivated his basket making skills for which he is so well known today. Today, Davis Hall baskets are prized by collectors of lightship baskets. He is known for developing the oval form of lightship baskets. In the surviving census records, he listed his occupation as seaman (1870), “on Lightship” (1880) and finally as basket maker (1900).
Reference: Information above obtained from the Nantucket Basket Museum Web Site