Monday, June 9, 2014

Tips for Antique Rug Shopping

Image: Kazempour Oriental Rugs

Antique shopping requires research, hunting, patience, knowledge and just a little luck. While we don't sell antiques, we have a genuine appreciation for the investment in antique rugs.
Shopping for an antique rug requires a bit of knowledge about the construction of the rug, the unique feel of antique rugs and a bit of research to find reputable dealers. Just like most antiques, if you find one that is truly authentic, you will be making a lasting investment, that will most likely increase in value over time.

Image: Manhattan Nest

Even though you can't find one on our site, we know a thing or two about how to spot an antique and warning signs that mean the deal may be too good to be true.

1. Rug Research - It helps to know how older rugs are constructed and how they are made. If you are not very familiar with the ancient art of rug making, educate yourself first. You need to be able to speak intelligently of the subject and immediately spot a fraud. Read all types of articles on the type of rug for which you are search, so that you can easily identify it in a crowd. Ask for help from a designer or a fellow rug connoisseur, any rug aficionado will easily offer advice.

2. Rug Construction - The most ancient of woven rugs are all masterful woks of art created by hand. There are no machine woven antique rugs, as the machines did not exist. Antique oriental rugs are woven on a loom with strands of wool. The strands stretched from top to bottom are called warps and then the weaver makes horizontal rows called wefts that are woven in and out between the vertical strands. Tying the warps together in a knot with a piece of wool create a pile. The weaver then works row by row and piece by piece to weave the rug.

Image: Iran Weaving Center

3. A Bit of Lingo - Just to make sure that you are a bit more savvy, this diagram should help distinguish the various parts of a rug. The more verbirage that you know, the easier it will be to talk rugs with the experts.

Image: Landry and Arcari

4. Fine Knots - A finely knotted rug is often better quality than a coarser knotted rug. The more knots per square inch, the finer the rug knotting. Imagine the pixellation of an image. The higher the pixel count, the clearer the image. The same principal applies to a rug. The details in the rug are more intricate with a finely knotted rug. If you can easily put your finger down in to the pile, it has too few knots per square inch.

Image: Carpets of Kashmir

5. Antique vs. Replica - If you prefer the antiquated version, make sure that you are buying one, instead of a rug that is made to look like an antique. Firstly, the pile of the antique will be very soft to the touch. If the rug feels too coarse, it is mostly likely not an antique.

Another key element to look for is the knotting on the back of the rug. If you can flip the rug over and see thousands of tiny knots in rows at the back of the rug, you have selected an authentic hand woven rug. If the knots, however, appear on a grid or if there is a backing to the rug, it is a more modern replica of an antique.

If the fringes of the rug are not a continuation of the warps, but rather glued or sewed on, you are also looking at a less-expensive replica.

6. Survey for Damage or Repairs - Carefully examine the rug for damage and repairs. If you are able to spot areas with obvious damage that detracts from the overall quality of the rug, you may want to select a different rug or haggle about the price. While there are bound to be some inconsistencies, a major flaw is something entirely different.

7. Origins  - Inquire about the history of the rug, where it may have originated, who where the previous owners or perhaps even where the wool originated (sheep from Tibet and new Zealand produce superior wool). The more you know about the rug's history, the easier it will be to understand its value.

8. Cost - Have a general idea of what an antique oriental rug costs. If you aren't sure, do a bit of research. Get an idea of the absolute lowest value (with some damage) and the highest value of a particular rug. If a rug is priced outside of that window and a rug dealer  can't provide history to back up the price, it may not be an authentic antique.

9. Reputable Dealer - Find a reputable dealer who is willing to discuss the rug, answer questions and allow you to inspect the merchandise. A dealer who seems pushy, who is unresponsive or who seems to be making unrealistic deals may not be a reputable antique rug dealer. If you are unsure, bring an outside expert with you to help inspect. Most reputable dealers will even let you take a rug home first to make sure it is a great fit. When in doubt, choose a dealer that has been in business for a long time or one that comes highly recommended.

10. Love It - Choose a rug that speaks to you. Save your money until you find one that is absolutely perfect for you and your tastes. The more you love your purchase, the more like it will stay with you for a very long time.

Image: Manhattan Nest

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