Posted by Michael Wendorf on June 07, 1999 at 13:34:48:
My answers are as follows:
(1) I find my rugs mostly from a small group of active dealers and pickers who know what I am looking for and call me when they get something they think they can sell to me at a profit. I am offered about 8-10 pieces a month this way.
I used to go out hunting and gathering at antique and related shows, but would now rather spend this time with my family as it is usually fruitless and very time consuming. I still go to conferences, every ACOR and every ICOC since 1990, and find the dealer fairs helpful. I am now using the Internet to see and communicate more widely. However, I have found eBay only marginally helpful to date.
(2) I try to acquire whatever I like as it is offered to me particularly if it is something that seems to fit into my vision of what my collection is and where it is going. I would guess I have been adding 6-10 pieces a year for the last several years to my collection. I never set out to collect a rug at a particular price level. I try to articulate very clearly what I am looking for to my band of suppliers and wait to see what is offered. On occasion I will travel to go see a group of pieces, but more often someone just sends me something to look at off a call or photo. As my collecting has become known among the right people, I am pleased at how many things are offered to me. I find this helpful to understand what is available and at what price.
(3) I am not certain what makes a rug collectible. I only know that for me at this stage it has to help me put my other rugs in context, have good color and fascinate me.
(4) Condition is one factor. It is not as important as color, drawing, rarity, age. If the rug does not have these other things, its condition is of little interest. If it does have these qualities, I can get past condition problems. On balance I like condition and it has to have enough to be readable, but I find I sometimes have to accept condition problems to get something more important to me. In the open marketplace, condition is important.
(5) Most of my rugs are stored in a rug closet and blanket chests. A few are displayed. I would like to display more, but have not.
(6) I am organizing, analyizing the collection all the time in an effort to better understand what I am doing, how it measures up and how to improve it. The ultimate compliment I have received is a remark that my collection somehow might rise itself to the level of an artistic statement. It had never occurred to me that this was possible, but I have enjoyed living with the possibility that it might be.
(7) In the end you are responsible for your collection and collecting decisions. But you cannot realistically do it yourself. I have been lucky to be close by to collectors like Wendel Swan and to have struck friendships with several reliable dealers and pickers. I think going to the 1990 ICOC in SanFrancisco was a tremendous wake up call for me. After that point, I basically had to start over and have been going since then quite happily.
(8) I would certainly hope my standards and interests have changed. I started with very primitive, cheap material then to a few Turkomans as they fell into my hands. Since about 1994, I have been collecting only Kurdish material and though it has become a little more popular and understood, it is still fairly wide open with room for a dedicated collector with limited resources to compile a good collection within a few years.
(9) I do not know. I would hope my children might like some of the collection.
(10) Do not under estimate the value of relationships with reliable dealers and pickers and treat them kindly. Go to exhibits, study collections, avoid dealers who come on too strong or claim to have esoteric knowledge that they cannot articulate in a sensible way. Take your time, do not buy on price, do buy what you love and never conclude you are smarter than the market or know everything you need to know about rugs. Knowledge comes in nuggets from various sources and voices; from knowledge taste and judgment follow. Good luck. MW
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