Presented is a vintage woven wicker fishing creel. The creel, shaped like a basket with a lid, is reinforced with tooled, saddle leather.
Creels were originally designed for fly fishermen, who typically stood knee-deep in cold rivers and creeks for hours on end while fishing. Secured by a long leather strap so they could be hung over the shoulder and worn above the hip, creels provided a container in which to put their catch. An opening at the top of the creel let the angler drop a fish into the creel without having to open the basket. In addition, the porous wicker allowed the fish to stay cool while the fisherman continued to cast.
Although creels can be immersed in water, they are not really designed to be worn so low that they are constantly submerged when filled with freshly caught fish. Rather, creels can be partially dipped in cold water on occasion, which in turn keeps the leaves, moss, and other organic material the fisherman has gathered into the basket moist and cool. This, in turn, keeps the fish fresh until they can be gutted and cooked.
Webster traces the word “creel” or “a wickerwork receptacle” to Middle English and dates it from about 1250 A.D. to 1450 A.D. In the late 17th century creels made entirely of leather came into fashion. Later in the late 1800’s willow and wicker creels started to show up with leather reinforcements. In an effort to preserve the trout population, “catch and release” fishing came into fashion in the mid 20th century. As such, the creel is longer utilized in fishing, and is now treasured for its craftsmanship and historic appeal.
Overall good condition, considering past use. Leather closure intact. No severe scuffs or markings. Dimensions: 12” H x 15 1/2” W x 7” D.