Picnic and pie baskets, hampers, insulated coolers, baskets for bread, casseroles, tissues, and toys. Peterboro Basket Co. produces some 400 basket styles. All are handmade on site and sold at a discount in this factory outlet store, which smells of fresh-cut wood and stain.
Founded in 1854, Peterboro claims to be the oldest continuously run basket manufacturing company in the country. Though the factory is not open to the public, a video shows the production process.
Trees are milled into boards, which are planed into thin strips, sanded, and put into giant steamers to soften. Skilled craftsmen, their fingers wrapped for protection, weave the strips into myriad styles of baskets. Baskets are made of durable ash, and each bears the company emblem in brass, pewter, or leather.
The largest baskets hold toys or firewood; the smallest cradle business cards. Drum-shaped coolers lined with high-density foam will keep ice up to four days. Some baskets have leather handles, some painted lids , some plastic liners, some fabric lined.
Prices range from $12 to $150. Ask to look at the bargain bins of factory seconds for $7 to $20.
Peterboro Basket Co. & Factory Outlet Store, 130 Grove St., Peterborough, N.H. 603-371-9020. peterborobasket.com.