My Decorating Obsession with Tobacco Baskets

by Kimba on March 21, 2011

in decorating,Favorite Things

The Painted House

It all started with these two pictures from The Painted House. That gigantic basket made my heart go pitter-patter. I had to have one. But I didn’t know what it was. So I turned to Uncle Google and spent hours searching things like “giant flat basket” and “the most glorious basket I’ve ever seen” and “somebody tell me what that basket is!!”. Until finally, I gave up and emailed Angela from The Painted House and begged her to tell me what that big, beautiful basket was.

She emailed me back within moments and said something like, “You silly Yankee! Don’t you know a tobacco basket when you see one?” Apparently, tobacco baskets were used by tobacco companies to display their product when they took it to market. You can find them in antique stores in the Carolinas (and other southern areas), but not up here in the North.


So I turned to Ebay. But, to date, I’ve been unable to find one in good shape for less than $100 plus at least $50 shipping! YIKES!

So I bought a replica tobacco basket. It’s smaller than the glorious 40″x40″ size of a lot of tobacco baskets and it lacks their character and aged beauty. I hate it. I thought it would calm my craving, but instead, I feel like the Jr. High girl wearing Kmart jeans when all my friends are wearing Jordache. Wait. I was that girl. And I totally dated myself with that comment.

Shopping Candy

And now, everywhere I look, I see beautiful tobacco baskets. It’s like I’m being taunted by the Tobacco Basket gods.

Southern Living

The Valley Voice

This picture makes me want to cry. You Carolina girls are probably out back playing frisbee with your tobacco baskets and I can’t find a single one.

My Home Ideas

I know that the answer is I need to make a visit to North Carolina and dig around in a few antique shops. Hopefully soon. And in the meantime, don’t you go buying all the tobacco baskets. Leave one for me!

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1 Stacy@RedDoorHome March 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

I spent some time in NC and fell in love with these beauties too!

2 Danielle @ The Sunshine Girl March 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

You aren’t the only Yankee that had never heard of these! So beautiful though! I hope you find one you love!

3 Amy in PA March 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

Oh my! If I had a blog, I would have written this post 2 weeks ago! I saw a picture of one of these baskets on a decorating blog a few weeks back & instantly knew that it’s what I wanted for above our guest bed. But, also being from PA, didn’t know what kind of basket it was. I’ve googled, checked out ebay & local antique places but to no avail. Where did you get your replica? That might do the trick for me – until I can find a real one (or two – one for you & one for me 🙂

4 Kimba March 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

I found my replica on Ebay. It was way less expensive than the authentic ones but it was still much for a basket. 🙂 Even so, I haven’t seen another one since I started looking. It was manufactured by Henn Workshops. That might help in your search.

5 Sue March 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

Kimba~ Okay, I live in Ohio and I see these baskets quite often. I bought mine for a higher price than I wanted- found it for around $35 in a consignment shop. I had the opportunity to buy another one a few months later at a yard sale for a paltry $8.00!! You can see how I used it HERE. I wish you luck in finding one at a reasonable price. They are cool! Maybe a few more prayers to the tobacco basket gods? *grin*
~ Sue
Sue´s last blog post ..The Sullivan Clan…

6 Kimba March 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

SUE! I love it! And you’ve given me hope! Maybe I just need to look a little harder locally. And I would have jumped all over that $35 one. 🙂

7 Bonni March 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

I live in Tobacco County, ooops, I mean Lancaster County, PA . I’ve seen these at yard sales and never bothered with them, but if I see one I’ll buy it for you! Hopefully the people selling them don’t read your blog or decorating magazines….the price might be above the $5 or $8ish they were priced. Love your blog!
Bonni´s last blog post ..Reaping a child’s love

8 Kimba March 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

Let’s see…Lancaster is about 4 hours from here. Maybe I can convince hubby to make an overnight trip. But I can’t tell him that it’s because I’m looking for a tobacco basket. 🙂

9 Jennifer Juniper March 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

I saw that same post on the Painted House and also loved that basket! I think you need to beat up your reproduction and definitely need to leave it out in the elements to bleach out from the sun. Maybe hit it with some dark stain on the edges?
Jennifer Juniper´s last blog post ..Stuff I Learned!

10 Kimba March 21, 2011 at 10:01 am

I thought about just leaving it out in the yard for a while to weather it up a bit. Maybe I’ll let the boys play frisbee with it?

I think some white/gray wash and/or stain is definitely in order.

11 Lori F. March 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

Kimba, Jennifer has obviously never been to PA. She doesn’t realize that the sun seldom shines here. It would take years to bleach your basket in the sun! ;=)

12 Carmen @ Life with Sprinkles on Top March 21, 2011 at 9:57 am

Gee, thanks. Now *I* want one! haha!

They are so fab!
Carmen @ Life with Sprinkles on Top´s last blog post ..Hello Sunshine! Hello Spray Paint!

13 Cari Skuse March 21, 2011 at 10:02 am

I’ve seen those baskets at The Antique Emporium in Beaver Falls. Not sure how good of shape they are in, but the last time I was there they had 2. It’s one of my favorite shops to go to. That’s where I bought my awesome mantle.
You can give them a call @ 724-847-1919 .

Good Luck!

14 ClassiclyAmber March 21, 2011 at 10:41 am

Oh, I didn’t know what those baskets were called, either, but have also always loved them! Shoot…and I’m right here in NC, too! So – I will have to let you know if I run across any more amazing deals!

Love all those pics – ESPECIALLY the foyer one with the gigantic tobacco basket on the wall! So fab~!!
ClassiclyAmber´s last blog post ..Heart for Japan

15 Pat March 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Kimba first of all — Marlboro looks to have SPAMMED YOU… ONE UP AHEAD OF ME…

and most importantly… I LOVE THE TOBACCO BASKETS TOO.
I’ve been to a tobacco field as a girl on vacation with my Grandparents and I remember the leaves were just so huge and green. No wonder the baskets have to be so big. For now I like your small ‘replica’…maybe you could paint it and knock it up…well, make it shabby… you know what I mean! Give it a couple of whacks with something heavy!
Take out your aggression on Marlboro!


16 Kimba March 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Too funny! That’s what I get for using the word tobacco 93x in one post!. My spam filter must have missed that one. 🙂

17 Traci March 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

You are so funny!
Those baskets are beautiful. I hope you are able to upgrade soon. 🙂
I love the Jordache comment.
My favorite pair of jeans of all time were the ones my mom got me in fifth grade. Green jordache jeans with a little yellow horse. I had the matching yellow sweater. LURVE!

18 Amanda @ Serenity Now March 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Teehee. I don’t see them often in my area of Virginia, but I have seen them in North Carolina. Think I have an idea of what to search for next time I go to visit my Nannie. 😉 Don’t worry…I’ll save one for you! I think one would be really neat in my kitchen!

19 Deanna March 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Thanks a lot Kimba – now I want one! I have a feeling that California is NOT the place to get one though…hmmm – who do WE know in NC???? 😉
Deanna´s last blog post ..Pinterest

20 Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D March 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I love the look and the texture of those baskets.
I’m a big fan of rustic – and rustic vintage makes me swoon.
Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D´s last blog post ..On the Level – Getting it Straight and a GIVEAWAY!

21 Kary Ross March 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm

oh my I had one of these in the attic of my garage for years and was cleaning out one day and just GAVE it away. Love what you have done with them!! I now want one again! Thanks for sharing!

22 Kary Ross March 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Ok, I just scanned the blog and now I went back and read CAREFULLY! You are looking for one of these!! I would love to have one again! I’ll keep my eyes open for you and send you message if I find one, or TWO, again! Love the photos of what folks have done with them decorating in their homes!

23 Courtney March 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Hey Kimba – if you make it to the Antiques Emporium in Beaver Falls, give me a call – I’ll go with you. I’m right up the road from there. They usually have a few sitting out front – not in quite as good shape as you’ve posted about – but I’ll keep my eyes open for them.

24 ann March 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Ok…first time in the comment section. And sorry for this comment, but really, am I the only person who finds those baskets hideous ?? 😀
Still love your blog though!!


25 Lauren from Southern Sassafras March 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Don’t worry, I live in NC and can’t find one!

26 Tiffany March 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Kimba, I was just about to yell at the screen for you to take a trip to the south – those things are EVERYWHERE!!! I see them in old barns that have been long forgotten all the time. And they are always at flea markets, thrift stores, junk shops and of course at the overpriced antique stores. I live in Tennessee – and there are still tobacco farms all around my area…so finding these kinds of things still being used isn’t unusual. People around here tend to practice the “use it up and wear it out” way of life.

Seriously – once summer gets in full swing…you should come to the south and fulfill your tobacco basket wishes.

27 Jill Tatum March 22, 2011 at 12:47 am

Have you checked out this website yet? She makes tobacco baskets and her work is awesome and a fair price.

28 Tara G. March 22, 2011 at 6:51 am

I don’t think I ever had jeans, but I had a Jordache purse and my disc camera fit right in there! 🙂

29 Elisabeth March 22, 2011 at 7:48 am

Here is another example of one that I love. And she lives in Michigan so you must be able to find them somewhere outside the south!
I think they look really cool, my only thing is using something associated with tobacco as decor, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Good luck in your search! I’m sure one of those Southern blogger ladies would find one for you down there and send it up!

30 Kim March 22, 2011 at 8:13 am

Oh my goodness! I spent the first 18 years of my life crawling around in tobacco baskets in my grandparents barn/basement. Growing tobacco was a second income for my family, and when we would pull the dried tobacco leaves off the stalk, we gathered them in our hands and then used another tobacco leaf (folded over like folding a towel length-wise) and wrapped it around the top to hold the “hand of tobacco” together. Once we had all these “hands” or bunches of tobacco, we would lay them down in this basket with the “hands facing the same way, like spokes in a wheel and go around and around the basket, stacking and packing the tobacco. I would get on top of it to pack it down with my weight/knees. Once you had a stack about 5 feet high, you’d place another basket on top of the stack and tie it all together as tightly as you could. Then off to market with as many baskets as you can haul while a bunch of men (I think I met Marlboro man several times lol) walked around and decided whose tobacco was the best grade, and they auctioned it all off to the highest bidder. Wow, brought back memories. My grandfather was adamantly against using tobacco, but he was all about growing it and selling it LOL.
Kim´s last blog post ..Mr Turtle

31 Loribeth March 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

You could make your replica look old….. Take it outside in the garden, fill it with dirt and grind the dirt in… Then take the garden hose to it to clean it off… Once’ the dirt is off it, break the basket in a couple places, so it looks used… Then a little brown shoe polish wiped on and back off… back in the dirt, hose it off, and then let it dry in the sun…

The problem is, it doesn’t look used, so you have to make it look used. I know it’s not a perfect solution, but maybe you won’t feel so bad about your Kmart jeans…
Loribeth´s last blog post ..Give this to my daddy This one will touch your heart

32 Megan @ Restoring the Roost March 22, 2011 at 11:54 am

haha! aww….yup, I live in North Carolina and they are everywhere in antique stores down here. Just saw one this past saturday at an antique mall. I love them too but this is the first time I’ve seen one hung up decoratively on the wall like that. Beautiful!
Megan @ Restoring the Roost´s last blog post ..sewing a chicken saddle

33 Ches March 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Great inspiration, I see these alot here in NC and have always wanted to get one, but couldnt figure out where to put it. If I see any when i’m out and about I will snatch one for you and maybe we can figure out how to get it shipped to you. Just let me know the max you would want to spend on one. My grandparents use to have a “baccer” barn so who knows they may have some laying around somewhere.

34 Kelley March 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Love those tobacco baskets too!

kelley ; 0 )

35 randee March 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

kimba – we’re leaving friday morning for south carolina. my husband’s family have tobacco barns all over the place. they call them pack houses & for years now, they’ve just been packed with their junk (like we do our basements). it’ll be fun pokin’ around & seeing if i can find you a basket. i never knew what those baskets were for!

i’ll let you know if i find one –

blessings –


36 Gina @The Shabby Chic Cottage March 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I love, love, LOVE tobacco baskets! I live in the south – with tobacco farms all around, and alas no baskets that I’ve seen around here. Crossing my fingers, though, because I really, really want one to go above my new mantle. Here’s wishing… sigh….

37 Sarah March 23, 2011 at 2:10 am

I WANT one!

38 Karyn March 23, 2011 at 9:47 am

YAY love those. They are SO pretty!
I guess I better call back home and get me some!

39 Missy @ It's Almost Naptime March 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

Yeah, so, this Texas girl was also clueless. Keepin my eyes peeled now!
Missy @ It’s Almost Naptime´s last blog post ..One year olds hit- and other amazing bits of wisdom

40 Erin March 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I found one of those at a local thrift store the other week and wrote about it here… Not sure they would ship it to you for cheap but its worth a try!!! Its called Class and Trash and the # is (804) 798-0567

41 MrsDake March 25, 2011 at 8:55 am

I’m from NC and I’ve seen these everywhere and had no idea they were tobacco baskets, Ha!! So next time I go back to visit I gotta find me one because I too am loving them for on the wall above my entry table in the foyer like that picture!!! Good luck finding one in your area!
MrsDake´s last blog post ..Potty Training AND Teething –

42 jana March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

When I went to college in N.C., I learned to weave baskets(no, not a basketweaving major) and honestly, this was the easiest basket to make. Although not a genuine antique, my homemade version has weathered nicely in the 20 years since I made it.

43 Melinda March 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm

You are making it hard for me not to want to run, not walk, to the South to get one for myself! I guess it might be a pretty long walk from the Pacfic Northwest but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for one of these beauties. Best wishes with your search!

44 angela | the painted house March 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

You crack me up, Kimba! I was once a girl in knock-off white sneakers while everyone else had on Ked’s. So sad, isn’t it?

We have got to get you a tobacco basket. Thank you for not telling everyone that I was a big meanie and emailed you the big ol’ stack of ’em I saw at Tobacco Barn.

Thank you for the mention!!!

45 julie March 30, 2011 at 3:00 am

Mine has been in storage while we’ve lived in Germany; I’m now anxious about getting home and getting mine out of storage and hanging it up again! I bought mine while living in NC and it hung on an outside wall on our deck/patio area. They are great aren’t they!
julie´s last blog post ..99 Days!

46 randee April 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm

yeah! both of the baskets made it home safely. i’ll let you choose which one you want.

look at your schedule & let me know when would be good for you & we’ll meet half way. (i think that would be cambridge, oh). my schedule is crazy but flexible!

looking forward to seeing you (& meeting you!) –


47 Aimee April 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

My Papaw’s Daddy was a tobacco farmer. This makes me think maybe I should find a place for one of these…hmmmm.
Aimee´s last blog post ..Week 15 Mission 52- Loose Lips Sink Ships- Plus More

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