Straw antiques is a broad and often misunderstood subject. Many straw decorated items fall into this hundreds of years plus category. Thousands of people globally were responsible for the production and distribution of straw decorated pieces collected today as straw antiques. Straw is a unique material. Straw items are presented in a variety of ways and this diversity may be why they are collected. Perhaps it is because so many beautiful articles have been handed down in families over the centuries.
In Europe, where the majority of straw art, ” now our antiques”, originated, it is important to know how little documentation about most straw work production actually exists. Few records of where, when or by whom were kept and some were destroyed in one way or another if the documentation ever existed in the first place.
Many century (one hundred year) plus antique straw pieces may still be found today. Their origin at times is known as some items were made in such countries as Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, or England to mention a few. Many straw items are said to have been produced in the Napoleonic War Era. Be very wary of this blanket description. The majority of antique straw work found today simply has no relationship with Napoleon or that period of time. Straw work was already in production in several areas of Europe, as mentioned above, and in Britain as cottage industries selling items long before and long after the Napoleonic War era.
In some cases straw creations were directly effected by or ended completely due to social situations such as fashionable trends and tastes, or the disruption of war, economics, or the industrial age. Extremely few of the items produced were signed. And many of those signed pieces can not be directly traced to an individual, record keeping as it was in the past century or more. It is important to acknowledge it was not uncommon for peddlers to wander their area selling straw goods or for merchants to ship vast quantities of anonymously made straw goods abroad.
Each item shown on this page is an antique example of straw work from the past century or longer. Many items are from unknown makers or unknown locations. What they do all have in common is that each article was made in part by an individual handling straw somewhere in the world. Collections are found in some museums.