A Guide to Vintage Wicker Wrapped Bottles [History & Values]
Hi there! Hope you are well; is it snowing in your neck of the woods? As I type these words it’s really coming down here in upstate New York. I hope you’re warm and cozy as you read this post 🙂 Today I want to talk about vintage wicker wrapped bottles, sometimes called wicker woven or basket wrapped wine or liquor bottles.
Currently very popular with home decorators, wicker wrapped bottles sell well on both eBay and Etsy. I suspect they would sell easily from an antique booth also. But I’m not completely sure because I keep most of them for myself, LOL.
History of Vintage Wicker Wrapped Bottles
In a nutshell, wicker wrapped bottles are the fruit of a European tradition of encasing wine, oil, and medicinal bottles in a protective layer of woven reeds or leaves to prevent breakage and spoilage.
That tradition continues to this day, although it’s the older examples that are the most desirable. This pair of Mateus Rose wine bottles, dating to about the 1960’s or 70’s, has a value of about $30-35.
We know that the practice of covering bottles with wicker dates back to at least the 15th century since Botticelli depicted them in his painting, “Banquet for Nastagio degli Onesti” (1445-1510). You can see a pair of bottles sitting on the ground in front of a tree stump on the lower left.
The bulbous bottles with thin carrying strap in the painting remind me of this tiny little wicker encased bottle I picked up at an estate sale for a couple of dollars.
About 4″ high, I wonder if it contained medicine or an herbal remedy of some sort? The remains of its original sealing wax is evident around the top of the neck.Mexicans got into the action at some point and began wrapping various brandy products, including this habanero (hot pepper) flavored example dating to 1934. I suspect it’s worth about $35-30.
What is a Demijohn
Demijohn comes from the Italian damigiani, meaning a larger, usually wicker wrapped, glass bottle holding three or more liters, (Fate is a Fiasco).
The term has come to mean, at least in America, bottles of small size. Decorators love to use them in virtually any room in the house. You’ll see some of my decorating ideas down below.
Were I to consider selling this older green demijohn, which I’m not at the moment, I would price it at $38-45.00, even though it’s missing its woven base.
It sports a wire closure with a white ceramic stopper. I would date it to the first or second quarter of the 20th century.
Chianti “Fiascos”: A Subset of Wicker Wrapped Bottles
Many readers will be familiar with a popular decorating trend from the 1960’s whereby chianti bottles served as candle holders. Flower children inserted specially made rainbow candles into the neck of bulbous green chianti bottles and allowed them to drip down over the bottles. You were very hip if you owned such a decoration.
What I didn’t know was that the “straw” wrapped bottles containing dry red wine from the hills of Tuscany were known as fiascos. The straw work crept only half-way up the bottle and was made of some sort of marsh leaf rather than a wicker-type material.
And here’s a funny story. Literally, just one hour after learning the meaning of fiasco, I came across the term in a mystery novel. The main character was served wine from a chianti fiasco!! Crazy right??
And in case you’re wondering, fiasco in Italian means complete failure as it does in English. Because of this connection, many wineries stopped wrapping their chianti bottles to avoid the negative connotation of the word.When I happened upon this oil painting at a garage sale not too long ago I had to buy it since it involved a Chianti fiasco(!). That and it cost just $1.00.
Decorating with Wicker Woven Demijohns
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I’ve collected this assortment of bottles over a period of about five years, picking them up anywhere I can find them: garage and estate sales, thrift shops, and flea markets. I’ve paid no more than $5 for any one of them.
The individual textures of the materials used for the weaving contrasts nicely with the relatively smooth surfaces of the cutting boards behind them. It makes for an attractive, monochromatic display.
Related Post: How to Clean & Care for Vintage Cutting Boards
I’ve used the bottles to decorate in a variety of ways, almost always on top of a country cupboard in my kitchen where my bread board “collection” is displayed.
I created this vignette for the Spring 2020 edition of Country Sampler’s Farmhouse Style magazine. If you love farmhouse home decor, then you’ll love this magazine, which is always chock full of great decorating and DIY ideas.
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This photo has received more likes on Instagram than almost any of my other photos. All the warm tones and variety of textures makes it appealing.
Related Post: Stenciled Crate
I staged this photo for a blog tutorial I wrote about the makeover I gave the candle box. I had just picked up the aqua demijohn on the right at a flea market; it sold shortly thereafter for $45.
Related Post: Candle Box Makeover
Here, the bottles compliment an antique lantern that I upcycled into a candle holder (with one super easy tip!). Their textured, woodiness makes them ideal for fall decorating.
Related Post: Antique Lantern Upcycle
Value of Basket Wrapped Bottles
*This post contains affiliate links for services related to this blog post. This is both for your convenience as well as to support my blog, as I receive a small compensation whenever you click on such a link and make any sort of a purchase, for which I thank you.
Newer examples of wicker woven bottles can be found out in the wild for as little as a dollar and then sold for about $10.00 on up.
Not surprisingly, vintage and antique examples cost a bit more, but you can sell them at a higher price point–from $25 to $100 and on up for large antique pieces.
A quick perusal of WorthPoint’s* price guide demonstrated this when I recently discovered these two bottles on the site. The example on the left sold on eBay in October 2020 for $37.50, while the one on the right sold in September 2018 for $89.
*Please note that I am a brand ambassador for WorthPoint.
In the center is an example of a nice vintage bottle, with its cute little woven “cap” still intact (value: $25-30). I suspect the newer example to the right also had a cap originally (value: $10).
Did you learn something new today? Have you sold any wicker woven bottles in your antique business? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments 🙂
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Well, now I’m going to be on the hunt for wicker bottles! Thanks for the tip!
You’re welcome Diane! Happy hunting 🙂
I’ve sold one or two; you would have jumped at the low prices I sold them for! Although I collect baskets, I haven’t felt the need to collect these–yet! I had to smile at the Chianti bottle picture. We had one in the early 70’s. I laboriously tried to make cheap red candles drip but finally found those rainbow ones! We also used a bulbous Mateus bottle. Those were the days!
Haha! Yes, those were the days my friend (la la la). This business is a learning process right. No regrets–I’m sure you made some money off your bottles–and you left room for someone else to make a little too. Nothing wrong with that 🙂
I have oiled the wicker on mine to darken the wicker and hopefully give some moisture to the wicker which was very dry and breaks easily. Must be careful not to damage it when you do it but it gives another look. I prefer darker.
Excellent idea Jeannette! The wicker is often very dry and breaks SO easily. I recommend a light coat of whatever you use with some buffing to avoid stickiness and dust collection.
Thank you for the information. I also collect wrapped bottles and have several that
I display above the TV armoire in our living . My favorite are the two that are large demijohns.
Anytime I see a demijohn in good condition, it’s mine!
I hear you Ann–I feel the same way!! I bet your collection is lovely 🙂
I have a double wrapped bottle set, with a leather shoulder strap made by Martini and Rossi. Any idea of the value? It’s in perfect condition! Wish I could send you a picture.
I’m not familiar with the bottle you’re describing Ellen. Feel free to Join my Facebook group, Your Vintage Headquarters (YVH), where you can post photos of your items and get help identifying and/or valuing them.
YVH is a very much a give-and-take sort of group, so I recommend joining only if you plan to participate. We also ask everyone to post questions after they’ve done their own research and taken it as far as they can.
Some helpful hints for ensuring you get the help you need if you join Your Vintage Headquarters:
– Post about one item at a time (with multiple good quality photos)
– Edit dark photos to lighten them
– Don’t include any blurry photos
– Important photos to take: at least one straight on, one of the bottom, one of any marks or tags, one of any decoration
Best of luck!
Hi! I have collected these for years. I wish I could find them at your prices! I have found that a good soaking twice a year does wonders. Let air dry in the sun
Thanks so much for sharing your tips June!!
Well I don’t feel too bad about drilling a hole in the bottom one and turning it into a lamp it was only half wrapped in leaves on the bottom they were damaged I basically wanted it for the neck it had a spiral neck I was trying to identify the wine when I came across this article
Sounds like an interesting bottle Max 🙂