Re: Recommendation: Make "Collectibility" a Low Criterion

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Posted by Marvin Amstey on June 13, 1999 at 11:57:55:

In Reply to: Recommendation: Make "Collectibility" a Low Criterion posted by R. John Howe on June 13, 1999 at 05:19:38:

: Gentlemem:

: Stephen raises an interesting point but I think I would want to argue that "collectibility," in the sense of what's likely, at some time in the future to become a "hot" collector item, should be a very low collecting criteria.

: As Marvin says, it's nearly impossible to predict. And I think it takes the "follow the herd" side of collecting to the extreme. It loses all sight of anything like aesthetic quality and merely tries to guess where the herd is likely to go next. I think it's more an economically drive thing and that's not what collecting is about for me at all.

: Now on the other hand, one answer to what "contemporary" weavings might be legitimately collectible is supplied in part by those who collect Afghan war rugs.

: And Jane Ware said in her first book that there are some folks who are "collecting" what they feel are exceptional pieces from the "hand-spun wool, vegetal dye" production that is typified by the things coming out of such firms as DOBAG, Woven Legend and Yayla.

: I own quite a few Yayla pieces myself but tend to have them on the floor. I have one very colorful Yayla Tibetan saddle blanket that I suppose one could say I have collected and I have two Ersari Turkmen pieces that I have had Chris Walter make for me that are of a little more than decorative interest to me. So that is another area in which some folks may be collecting contemporary material.

: I was in Walter Denny's home a couple years ago and had him throw out an exquisite little contemporary Turkish rug and challenge a group of experienced collectors to say why this little piece wasn't "collectible." But he was saying that it was, in his estimation, already at the level of quality of the old pieces we were collecting, not guessing that it would at some time in the future be a "hot" item.

: The commissioning and buying of high quality contemporary material has been and still is one of the collecting practices that goes on among Navajo rug and blanket collectors. I was in the Heard Museum in Phoenix and noticed how many of the really wonderful pieces in that collection were in fact commissioned by some folks in the early 20th century who were concerned that high level Navajo weaving skills might be dying out and went about documenting them, so to speak, with commissions to the known skilled weavers of that time.

: Regards,

: R. John Howe

In relating the story about Walter Denny challenging some collectors about the quality of a current production item to an old collectable rug, John hits on a troubling subject. Will one be able to tell the difference between the 100 year old yastik and the 10 year old yastik 25 or 50 years from now? And if they can not, what makes one more collectable than the other except age? I'm not as familiar with modern Ersari weaving as John is, but I've seen nothing Turkomen in modern production that will be as confusing as some of the Turkish work. On the other hand I've seen some "Afghan" work looking like very good old Caucasian work. Comments please.

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