Object of the month: Berry picker

Monthly Artifacts

Berry picker

This berry picker comes from Hakkstabben, a little place on the island called Seiland. According to the information the museum has, it was made around 1900 by Albert Steinnes.

In our resource-intensive society, reuse has become a necessity. We are sorting what we are tossing, so that the material can be recycled. Plastic bottles can become fleece hoodies and cars become cans.

Regain of resources is not a modern contrivance, but in the early days it wasn’t so common that the things underwent such transformations as they do today to be reused. On older items, it is often possible to see what the reused material originally was.

What would become our berry picker began its days as a can. Maybe as a can of fish balls? Once the dinner was eaten and the box empty, it had fulfilled its function in terms of storing and preserving food. Now it could have been wasted – if it hadn’t been for Albert Steinnes. Where he got the idea from, I don’t know. Perhaps it was customary to make berry pickers out of empty cans? (It is difficult to know as it is not this type of object that most often ends up in the museums’ collections). In any case, he needed a berry picker, and he knew how to make it. The box had a handle and an ingenious construction consisting of teeth made of metal wire for the picking and a half-lid preventing the berries from rolling out. Then it was no longer an empty can – it was a berry picker!

I think the berry picker is a wonderful example of how things have completed their task and lost their original value, but with the right ideas and in the right hands it can be resurrected with a new function.

Written by Merete Ødegaard, curator NMF