The Repair Question

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Posted by Robert Torchia on April 19, 1999 at 14:06:08:

It was amusing to read Marvin's citation of a Ushak rug in his discussion on repairs. I remember that a small attractive Lotto came on the market a couple of years ago that was in remarkable condition for a 17th century piece. Many people commented that it could thus not possibly be new and was in fact of recent vintage. I bought an old Anatolian kilim recently that needed some relatively minor repairs. The dealer told me that my piece was in far too good condition [!] and that he could have made more money tearing it up into fragments and selling them separately. I asked a leading collector if I should have my piece repaired and she said no. She reasoned that if it were fixed, no one would belive that it was truly old! I think it best to conserve and not to repair. That is a key distinction. Here is another perspective. My business is Old Master paintings. If we stripped all the overpaint off such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa there would be very little left of Leonardo's original paint layer. The portrait would also look like Hell. Rug people seem to attach some value to the visible signs of wear and even severe damage, and have a much greater tolerance for such problems than almost any other type of collector that I have ever met. It seems almost axiomatic that the more damage one tolerates, the more experienced a rug collector one is.

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