When I first started to collect my Longaberger baskets, I found myself closely examining them and wondering about things like tiny cracks and other blemishes. After buying the Longaberger Collectors guides, I learned that many of these things are common and should not be considered as damage or a defect.
On page 193 of the 2009 Edition (the last one published) of the Longaberger Collectors Guide, is an explanation of what is acceptable and what is not for the condition of Longaberger baskets. The following is what it says.
What should you look for when you are evaluating the quality or condition of a Longaberger basket? It is first helpful to determine what is considered to be “normal” for these handmade baskets. The Company has offered the following to explain what to accept as “normal and acceptable.”
It is normal for there to be some room between splints. This is a natural occurrence as the splints dry and slightly shrink, therefore it is normal to be able to adjust the weaves up and down.
If you basket has colored accent weaving, there will often be a small amount of dye on the upsplints where they touch. The dye is not completely colorfast, therefore this “bleeding” is very common.
Small hairline cracks around the tacks are a natural occurrence as the wood dries.
Some wood has natural swirls or “beauty spots” in the grain that will absorb stain differently. This may cause the stain to appear darker in some areas.
A trademark of Longaberger baskets is the wrapping of the trim strip around the band for a cleaner finish. This “turn-under” may fray or crack as the wood dries. Because it is very difficult to bend wood at this angle, this fraying is very common.