Straw antiques is a broad subject. Thousands of people globally were responsible for the production and distribution of straw decorated pieces collected today as straw antiques.
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. The straw applique technique for example, referred to as straw marquetry in the furniture field, is thought to have been brought to Europe in the 15th century from Asia. But the true origin is lost.
Many century (one hundred year) plus antique straw pieces may still be found today. The thought to be older pieces are often described as being Napoleonic straw work. This straw work, and the many different techniques attributed to it, would have needed to have been produced in a prison environment to a ready buying market somewhere in and around the Napoleonic War years of approximately 1785-1816, which is absurd. The materials used by the prisoners would not have been produced or dyed simply for the sole use by and for prisoners. Based on historic fact, not all straw items determined to have been made during that 40 year period of time were necessarily made by a prisoner. Some works were no doubt made by later incarcerated men. But the majority of antique straw work found today was not. Straw work was already in production in several areas of Europe and Britain in cottage industries long before and long after the Napoleonic War era.
Thousands of people from several countries were involved in the straw hat industry in one way or another for example. Their creations are more than a century old. The historic timeline of some straw creations were directly effected by or ended completely due to social situations such fashionable trends and tastes, or the disruption of wars, and economics. 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 was not uncommon for peddlers to wander their area selling straw goods or for merchants to ship vast quantities of anonymously made straw goods.
Each item shown on this page is an antique example of straw work from the past century or longer. Many 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.
The area of straw antiques is quite broad! The Straw Shop offers researched articles about a few of these pieces. Despite the information provided, origins and dates for some items may still remain unknown.