TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  dealers on the net
Author  :  Richard Farber mailto:%20farberr@netvision.net.il
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 01:03 a.m.
Dear All,

Mr. Price suggested [demanded] that If I have something to say about on-line dealers I should. Well here goes.

Preliminary info:

I have been using computers for over 20 years for desktop publishing of both words and music but have come rather late to the computer as a comercial instrument. Thanks to Mr. Howe for the tips in purchasing books on the net. Have been very happy with that.

I do not live in a central location

The story:

Some months ago in Tel Aviv, I came across a little Turkoman bag of about 15 by 20 centemeters which was nicely embroidered and not finding items for one of the centrall areas of my collection said to myself, 'lets establish a relationship with this dealer by buying three or four little things' and if I like this object even though I dont collect Turkoman materials, than why not. It was inexpensive, well under 50 dollars and well thought out and formed . . . I enjoyed it.

Some weeks [or days] later on the net I came across some similar bags with a different design and liked the image of one of them and even though it was well over twice the price of the one I bought at home went for it. I was warned by email by the dealer that 'some of the teal silk was frayed" and thought that this is a common enough occourence with the embroidery thread and agreed to take the piece. The piece arrived and there was hole ON THe SIDE NOT PHOTGRAPHED through the ground cloth and the lining of around 2 by 3.5 centemetes . . .over a inch square. To return the piece by UPS or similar would cost as much as the piece was worth and to send it by registered airmail was a bother and also expensive. . . I will return someday or have it forever as a reminder of why not to use the internet for buying textiles

If I were liveing in the States than the use of the net might be more reasonable but at this distance it seems unwise.



Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 07:25 a.m.
Dear folks -

Richard Farber takes an interesting position: that he doesn't deal with those he has not met in person.

And because he has on occasion not observed this rule, he has had unfortunate results in a "net" purchase.

I want to acknowledge that dealing on the internet is fraught with danger. And Mr. Farber admits his geographic location is part of what fashions his position, but my own experience has been different.

Yes, I have had some disappointing experiences buying rugs here. Some dealers "play" with the colors that I see on my screen in comparison to the colors one would see "in the wool," in ways that are hard to defend.

But I have bought rugs and textiles on the internet and continue to do so.

Only this week a Turkmen chuval fragment arrived and so did two contemporary Turkish yastiks. All have been satisfactory purchases.

I own a very nice Yomud main carpet with a well-drawn "tauk naska" gul and good colors that I encountered on eBay with the label "handsome Bokara" and a seller who had no further information to share and who was unable (the piece was consiged) to offer me a return privilege. Well, I was likely foolish throwing that much money into cyber-space but it turned out very well.

I would also press back on Richard's rule here more generally and in a way that he doesn't intend.

I have met a lot of people on the internet who I have never seen face-to-face. Richard is one of them. Our relationship has been fortuitous and rewarding. Why could it not be similarly with some dealers?

I have met some dealers only on the web and have generally had good experiences and have encountered and acquired material that I would otherwise likely not even known about.

So if I understand Richard's rule in what I hear as its sternest form, it is too delimiting for me, I think, and unnecessarily so.

But I'm glad you raised it, Richard.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 07:34 a.m.
Hi John,

One important difference between meeting other collectors (Richard, for instance) on the internet and meeting dealers by buying pieces from them on, say, eBay, is that there is no financial risk whatsoever in meeting other collectors and considerable financial risk with eBay. The rewards on eBay purchases can be substantial, of course, and you can sometimes find a real bargain. The answer to the question of whether the risk/reward ratio is worthwhile depends on the risk tolerance of the buyer as well as the psychological reward he experiences when he gets a bargain.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  bob kent mailto:%20bobkent10@yahoo.com
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 08:45 a.m.
I am new to rugs, live in the NE, and buy a lot of old, cheap rugs on the net. (Most of the rugs I buy for $50-300 would make you guys scrunch your faces up.) As others have noted, some normal risks (e.g., seller misrepresents age, flaws are hidden) expand when you can't physically examine the rug or cast an eye upon the seller. And reading color, condition, and/or repairs in web images ... ?

But there are advantages: 1) the web puts a lot of rugs before my monitor, and I can buy a rug that's in germany without leaving the office. it's not the death of distance, but $40 ships a rug pretty far, 2) the web allows people who may not trust a dealer to pay a fair wholesale price to sell mom's old rug ... perhaps to me, 3) with lower barriers to entry, I gain access to rugs from collector-dealers who have better stuff and provide better information, 4) some established dealers put a regular stream of old rugs up for sale. they provide better info and images, and, given that their reputations reduce risk, get higher prices. they also save time, as some are specialized.

The net has worked for me, but it might not be good for veteran collectors who are currently interested in only specific, choice things. I can't throw too much money at rugs. While books and museums great learning tools, a distressed old rug that I can walk on barefoot drives the point home (as long as I don't get my feet caught in the holes). Since I don't spend much per rug, I don't get too worked up over items that dissapoint me (sell em off on the web or at flea markets if, at first or later, I don't want them).

It's against the concentional wisdom, but I've spent $3000 for a dozen books and 20 old rugs instead of one or two nicer pieces (how does a new ruggie buy these?). Since I like to learn, buy, and sell, this works for me. The best results are lower average prices than stores, and meeting some dealers who then offer stuff to me directly based on my past buys. Web selling can be good for the dealers, by expanding the possible set of buyers and allowing a relationship to be formed.

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 09:43 a.m.
Hi Bob,

It sounds like you've hit upon a system that will probably get you where you want to go. I don't think I've ever owned a rug from which I didn't learn something, so if you acquire many rugs you ar likely to learn a lot. Since you are willing and able to resell them, you are able to ascend this learning curve at relatively little financial cost.

Happy hunting!

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  bob kent mailto:%20bobkent10@yahoo.com
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 11:56 a.m.
Steve: Low-end web buying may not be risky for new collectors, at least versus the alternative of buying a expensive rug right out of the gate. Before I can buy a choice old gashgai at a higher price, I need to 1) know that's what I really want, 2) know a choice old gashgai when I see one, and 3) know how to buy it.

Books and auction catalogs help, but they have a common problem with the internet: no picture conveys the underfoot, in-your-room experience.

The internet enables a low-cost market in cheap, worn and/or damaged, old rugs that aren't worth the time of a conventional dealer. Experience with the best two-dimensional images may suggest that I'd love an old gashgai, but living with a $100 one with a 8" hole in one end may tell me something else. Something typical of the type that pictures can't convey (e.g., pile length, knot size) may change ideas formed through even good books and pictures. It takes time to experience a rug, and, if I do like the damaged one, the bar is raised: A more expensive purchase should be better in color, design, etc., and it might have no big holes, too. My tastes, if I may call them that, have changed, and keep on changing, and for now I can sift through low-end internet rugs without abusing a dealers' return priveleges.

My only thought: I do wish that more international online rugs sellers would accept credit cards. Many would-be customers are online-buying, credit-enabled, and credit-addicted Americans. Credit cards and email save time and work by cutting out currency exchange, check-delivery, and check-clearance. I'd happily cover the dealer's cost of accepting MC or VISA... we'd both be ahead with fewer trips to the bank, DHL bills, etc.

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  11-04-2001 on 01:40 p.m.

You have hit on a very important factor here. Steve has mentioned it, too. The fact is that it takes buying, living with and "experiencing" a rug to grasp an understanding of the type/age/condition/colors and, especially, your appreciation of it.
This aspect of learning about rugs cannot be overstated. It allows you to better gauge the relative value of other examples perhaps encountered online where you do not have the ability to truly examine them. Buying a rug gives you the opportunity and time to study, compare and learn about different types of rugs.
This learning process can be expensive if you buy an expensive rug "right out of the gate" that turns out to not be desirable once you learn more about them.

The internet has certainly allowed us to see pictures of a lot of rugs. The more you know about rugs from books and catalogs, the better you can (hopefully) discern a bargain from a disaster. Many other collectibles, such as stamps, coins or baseball cards, have more-or-less established value criteria. Rugs are a lot harder to value.
Even with a lot of experience, an internet buy can be mistake once the rug arrives.
Your house probably looks a lot like mine, with a bunch of books and magazines about rugs crammed into a small bookcase and lots of old, raggedy rugs pinned to the wall and complicating your vacuuming chores. And a small pile of mistakes waiting for redemption.

Pat Weiler

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-05-2001 on 05:06 a.m.
Dear folks -

Someone has said, if you want to learn about rugs, buy something (anything) and show it to a few people. You will quickly be acquainted with a great series of "mistakes" you have made. (It is less expensive, but not as impactful, to ask the experienced folks first.)

And if you want the graduate-level course try to sell it.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  bob kent mailto:%20bobkent10@yahoo.com
Date  :  11-05-2001 on 07:16 a.m.
For me at least, the hard way is the fastest and easiest way to learn. I am sure that I haven't yet sampled all of the Major Mistake Groups in Selling. I have sold rugs for less than I paid, but those aren't the ones I remember (they were like having a nice dinner in a new city, and getting most of my check refunded later.)

My most vivid selling experience involves four old rugs, with a very archaic small baluch in there, that I bought on the net and while traveling, later took to a dealer, named my price, and sold for more than I paid (!). I felt quite clever, really, at least until my next trip to that store (hey, there's "my" rug on the wall, with a spotlight, and a price tag...). C'est la vie, what the hell, I set the price. I still find it hard to disconnect buying and selling, to forget what I paid when I sell, but that experience has helped...

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  11-06-2001 on 08:47 a.m.
bob -

My brother has been an antique tool dealer for 30 years. I watch his moves to learn. I notice that he never sorrows when someone to whom he sells a piece is able to sell it for a great deal more. He says that one needs just to decide what one personally is willing to sell a piece for and be content with that.

There's also a kind of "level of market" phenomenon that affects such things.

One of my brother's young sons dug in the boxes at a large flea market and found a antique brace, likely a prototype of some of the oldest American antique braces and maybe a unique transitional piece between English and American braces. They bought this piece for about $150 and sold it for $2,500 because that was the highest level of the market to which my brother had access at that time. In three more turns it sold for over $10K and is now a famous published piece. My brother said he can't feel bad that he didn't get $10K. He just didn't have access then to that part of the market.

We've told this story before but some of us were at a Skinner auction when a little Saryk bag face came up with a reserve of only maybe $900-1200. I thought it attractive and said to my wife that I might bid it 80% of reserve and maybe get it. Dream on. It sold to pandemonium in the room for $22K and the next week the dealer who bought it sold it to a big time collector for $44K. That dealer had access to a market level that most of us can't even dream of.

So you are right not to regret too much that you got your price but this dealer knew a little more and feels that he can get it. (Your story would be more impressive, of course, if you know the dealer got his price. It's easy to write numbers on a price tag. I do it all the time myself. )


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:dealers on the net
Author  :  bob kent mailto:%20bobkent10@yahoo.com
Date  :  11-06-2001 on 11:00 a.m.
RJH: Thanks, and hey, if they can get that price, more power to 'em! Margins and turnover are probably issues for pro dealers. And I see your point about access to various markets: Dealers with the best goods, levels of market access, and reputation will get and, by reducing risk and sometimes even adding cachet, earn higher prices. (As a textile tyro, I like the risk profile of internet sales in an unreasonable "churn, burn (cash, sometimes!), and learn" campaign.)

Still, there is a, or a set of, market prices for things (these move of course), and I am struck at how much "cost plus" pricing there seems to be, at least among some sellers. For example, a seller explicitly considers their cost, even coding it on tags, when setting a sales price, so deals of the "I paid X and can get 2X, 3X, whatever" type are made. I think that this can let some things go cheaply (what if it's worth 5X in market you can get to?). I suppose cost-plus pricing is a sometimes a response to the light bill and price uncertainty because items aren't really comparable. Still, I'd like to forget my cost when I sell things, and just try to get a good price for the markets I have access to... fortunately, the day job is secure.

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