Baskets described in old invoices as being for bread or cake have for a long time been more often used for fruit.
Although baskets existed in England in the 17th century, examples earlier than 1740 are rare. After this date, they survive in very large numbers. American baskets are very rare. As most baskets have pierced decoration and were in daily use for a long time it is important to check them carefully for damage, especially those with pierced decoration
As with many different types of silver, baskets were made more lightly as the years passed, due probably to increasing demand from the less wealthy section of the population, and to the introduction of the rolling mill, which led to large-scale production. However, the Regency period produced some notably heavy examples. Weight at this time was considered synonymous with quality.
The oval shape and swing handle was standardized by 1740. A basket of this date rests on a rim base rather than on separate feet. This would always have been an expensive piece of silver, and should therefore have a fine coat of arms engraved in the base, sometimes framed by flat chasing as on salvers of the period.
Baskets had feet in the middle of the 18th century until mass production set in. Oblong and circular shapes appeared by the end of the century, and thereafter baskets were usually circular.
Early baskets are usually marked underneath or in a line on the side; later ones on the side or the base. Ideally, handles will also be marked, although this is unlikely on early baskets.