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Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.

How is a Repaired Rug Valued? by Marvin S. Amstey

I was going to choose a different topic for this Salon, then I received my latest Sotheby's catalogue of rugs that were sold at auction on April 7th. Figure 1 is a 16th century Ushak (Sotheby's spells it "Oushak").

Now this rug is old, no doubt about it! It is 3'5" by 5'2". A number of these have appeared at auction in the past 5 years ranging in age from 16th to 18th century. In fact, there has been one in nearly every Sotheby's and Christies' auction catalogue since 1994. While no one would argue that they are common, I think calling them rare stretches a point.

The rug that I'm using for illustration has lost its outer guard border. All the discolorations you see in the photo are faded reweaves amounting to approximately 20% of the rug. Sotheby's estimated that this rug would sell from between $10,000 and $15,000. They got it right; it sold for $11,500. Our problem for this Salon is to try and understand how one estimates the price of a very tired and repaired rug.

One obvious answer is the price of similar rugs in recent times. That's fine; except most of the others were in far better condition, which led to prices over $20,000. To what extent do repairs diminish the price of a rug? How much repair is truly distracting? In this example, the reweaves cut across all four corners of the field and, most distracting, cut right through the center medallion. Almost the entire lower left corner has been rewoven. To me, the value has been reduced far beyond what Sotheby's expected (obviously, I was wrong.). To my eye, the reweaves are so distracting that I can't concentrate on the rug, per se. All I see are the reweaves. It would make more sense to me to collect a fragment of such a rug than this "patched" shadow of its former glory. Obviously, this is a personal opinion, and others out there might argue to the contrary. That is the purpose of this forum, and perhaps we all might gain some insight into how one values a rug with repairs, faded repairs and missing borders.

Figure 2 is another illustration in black and white of a damaged Chodor juval.

This sold at Skinner's on Sept. 19, 1998. Certainly this rug is not rare or even uncommon, yet it sold for $1850. Why? Not only are there a couple of chunks out of the upper border, but there is a large slit with losses to the skirt. Lastly the edges are reduced, and the piece is evenly worn. One might argue that these are repairable and can be rewoven all of which would raise the cost dramatically for a fairly common juval (I know, the border is uncommon!). My point again is, how is this price determined? The auction estimate was right on the money: $1500-$2000. I look forward to your collective wisdom and sage thoughts.

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