In agricultural use, a hamper is a wide-mouthed container of basketwork that may often be carried on the back during the harvesting of fruit or vegetables by hand by workers in the field. The contents of the hamper may be decanted regularly into larger containers or a cart, wagon or truck.
The open ventilation and the sturdiness offered by a hamper has made it suitable for the transport of food, hence the use of the picnic hamper.
At one time it was common for laundry services to leave a large basketwork container with a lid which is now commonly referred to as a clothes hamper. The same type of container would be used to return clean clothing, which would be put away by the laundry service and the empty container left in place of the full container for later pickup.
This type of daily or bi-daily hamper service was most common with Chinese laundry services in 19th century England and America.
Up until the mid 20th century, in the Western tradition, the hamper was a basket that could be carried by the donor and physically handed to the recipient. This limited the size of the gift to food ingredients for at most several days, or other necessities for one to two weeks. The basket itself was a useful item around the house or farm, and any cloth wrapping for the food or lining of the basket would also be usable by the recipient family.
In more recent times, the hamper would likely be a plastic bag or acrylic fibre bag of a size that can be carried, with tinned or packaged goods. A Christmas hamper is likely to be bigger and have some party or celebratory foods, or toys. Hampers can also contain related festive foods.
US Patent Issued to Home Products International on Jan. 24 for "Collapsible Laundry Hamper" (Illinois Inventor)
Jan 25, 2012; ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 25 -- United States Patent no. 8,100,280, issued on Jan. 24, was assigned to Home Products International...