22 MAY 1941, Page 15

Basket - Making

During the last war the Dutch were able to seize a great part of the osier- and basket-trade of this country, and keep it. Later the osier-trade had to meet competition from the Argentine. For many years the Dutch were sending produce here in baskets so cheaply made that they were non-returnable. Sold in Covent Garden at sixpence each they could be bought by the fruit-grower at tenpence. The English basket-maker could not compete ; the price of making, exclusive of materials, was around one-and-twopence for a similar basket. There is now, of course, no Dutch competition, and English basket-makers are flooded with work and short of hands. This is good, for basket-making is in no sense a revived or exclusively arty craft, but a good, honest, skilled operation that defies mechanisation. The purists have lamented the passing of traditional designs and so on, but I still get satisfaction out of the thought of a craft that still has its own City company and probably makes a contribution to more trades, from hop-picking to butchering, fishing to gardening, than any other.