Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn turns back the clock to give foodies a nostalgia hit...
What a weekend. For three days over the bank holiday, the leisure park was transformed in to a food lovers paradise for the Lancaster Food and Drink Festival.
Surely the most perfect “foodie” collectable and the “must have” thing to take along to an outdoor event or on holiday is this picnic basket.
We do get the occasional picnic set in, but it’s rare that it’s in such good condition and complete.
This was made in the 1960s; has a glass flask, some early examples of Tupperware, a salt and pepper set, plates, cups, saucers and gorgeous enamelled handled knives. It is on sale for £115.
The term picnic was used originally to describe a dining experience that was actually indoors, not outdoors, so the picnic basket really wasn’t necessary.
It was expected that each person would contribute a dish for all at the table to share. The change in the meaning of the term, from "everyone bringing some food" to "everyone eating out of doors" seems to have been in the 1860s.
The Picnics that we enjoy evolved from the elaborate traditions of outdoor feasts enjoyed by the wealthy.
In England during the 14th century, the earliest picnics were medieval hunting feasts with plenty of hams, meats and pastries. Baskets were now needed to store and carry the items needed for the veritable feast and the basket (or hamper as it is also known) came into its own.
The first hampers were made of wicker or tin. The tin ones were just meagre containers for food that were often used for a traveller, whereas the wicker baskets were used for more leisurely lunches.
Luxury wicker baskets depicted by Charles Dickens were made for wealthier picnickers by companies like Fortnum and Mason.
Even today the wicker basket together with a big blanket conjures up images of romance and story book lunches (where it never rains!)
Antique picnic baskets still exist today, but don’t expect to pay a few pennies for them.
A wicker basket from the 1800s in good condition could be worth up to £300 as they indulge our passion for nostalgia and simpler times, not to mention leisurely outings and good food!