Re: Rarity

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Posted by Jerry Silverman on March 22, 1999 at 18:08:42:

In Reply to: Rarity posted by Michael Wendorf on March 22, 1999 at 15:20:07:

: Dear Friends:

: Rarity has been mentioned in the introduction as a desired attribute with most collectors. Is this so?
: It seems to me that good condition Kazaks, to pick one type, are relatively rare but also common enough to make them rather available to collectors and to dealers wishing to sell them to collectors. The fact that they are available and of a known type may help to explain the realtively high prices good ones seem to make even though the evidence tends to show that they were workshop pieces and not tribal or otherwise very ethnographic. The question then is does rarity confer value? I think that may depend on how rare the thing really is. I've seen some very beautiful things not do much because they were not understood and did not seem to fit into what collectors expect and were difficult to value without the experience of past sales or the existence of an identical piece in a certain collection. A decent Fachralo Kazak or Eagle or Sewan or (need I go on?) seems to do better than lesser established types if only because collectors see them in books, at auction and seem to feel this is what so and so has, I'd better have one too. In this way rarity beyond scarce seems to confer no value at all.
: Any thoughts on rarity? Regards, Michael

Dear Michael, et. al.,

What you say sounds right to me. This goes to the "postage stamp" approach to rug collecting. That's where the collector treats his/her rug books as stamp catalogs and pursues collecting to "fill" the catalog. I've seen such collections; even the best seems a tad soulless.

The difficulty that the truly rare piece has in the marketplace is that its value is, to a larger degree, based on the self-assuredness of the collector. If it's so rare that it's not pictured in a rug book, then the buyer must have much more confidence in his/her judgement. The strength of that assuredness/confidence is measured in the number of zeros in the price a piece can sustain. My guess is that there aren't 200 people in the world with enough confidence to buy something truly rare at a price justified by its scarcity.



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