Posted by James Blanchard on 01-17-2008 07:12 PM:

Hi Steve and all,

First, thanks to Chuck for putting up this Salon. I expect it to be well-subscribed once it picks up steam.

I am probably one of the newest "collectors" on Turkotek, and have my own haphazard history of developing my approach to acquiring weavings, which I will share with folks anon. However, I would be interested in knowing not only what pieces folks have acquired recently (which could become basically another "Show and Tell" discussion), but also to hear how their taste and preferences have changed over time, and if possible, articulate why that might be the case. Here are a few leading questions:

1) To what extent have collectors moved into the "best of type" collection mode, where the impetus is to save up for that "killer" piece?

2) To what extent would people consider themselves to be "opportunistic", in the sense that any decent piece that suits one's short-term budget is seductive.

3) Have people started to focus their collections on particular tribal groups or formats (i.e. bags or utilitarian pieces), or do they stay deliberately "eclectic"?

4) How much "turnover" is there in collectors' collections, or do most people keep most things forever? If they keep things, why?

5) How much does "decorative" considerations influence purchases (i.e. that just wouldn't fit or go with my furniture and other stuff)?

6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?

7) To what extent do people purchase pieces on "ethnocultural" grounds (i.e. eschewing obvious "commercial" weavings, however nice).

8) How many folks collect for financial reasons, focusing on pieces that they think will appreciate in value? If they do, what types of pieces do they think have a lot of "market upside"?


James


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-17-2008 08:50 PM:

1) To what extent have collectors moved into the "best of type" collection mode, where the impetus is to save up for that "killer" piece?

I would have to increase the defenses around the household bunker if I only collected "killer" pieces. Plus, the household would be mostly bare of rugs.

2) To what extent would people consider themselves to be "opportunistic", in the sense that any decent piece that suits one's short-term budget is seductive.

Have you been talking to my psychiatrist?

3) Have people started to focus their collections on particular tribal groups or formats (i.e. bags or utilitarian pieces), or do they stay deliberately "eclectic"?

My "collection" has always tended towards the "tribal"/"ethnographic" and has gravitated to the smaller chanteh format. Mostly due to lack of room. I had to restrain myself from bidding on a camel head trapping recently, due to the fact that the "tribal group" influence almost overcame the "fiscal restraint" influence.

4) How much "turnover" is there in collectors' collections, or do most people keep most things forever? If they keep things, why?

I turn my pieces over and around seasonally. It keeps the moths from nesting.
Why? Because my wife has not declared that I have to abandon them. Yet.

5) How much does "decorative" considerations influence purchases (i.e. that just wouldn't fit or go with my furniture and other stuff)?

If the piece I buy on e-bay is not up to my snobbish collector sensibilities when it finally arrives, it becomes a "decorative" piece....which explains the lack of space....

6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?



7) To what extent do people purchase pieces on "ethnocultural" grounds (i.e. eschewing obvious "commercial" weavings, however nice).

I am an equal opportunity collector. I even let obnoxious oranges and other synthetic colors share the home. I am surprised that I have not been given some sort of humanitarian award for my open-mindedness.

8) How many folks collect for financial reasons, focusing on pieces that they think will appreciate in value? If they do, what types of pieces do they think have a lot of "market upside"?

James,

Do you think this is some sort of leisure activity?
It is a BLOOD SPORT!!!

Calmly yours,

Patrick Weiler


Posted by Richard Larkin on 01-17-2008 10:36 PM:

Patrick,

You're not being serious.

James,

Of course, I can't resist. (Impute the past tense to all of my remarks.)

1. The downside to committing exclusively to the killer piece is that you feel crummy when you finally land it; only to find you and your piece have been badly and multiply upstaged, very probably by Mark Hopkins in his latest NERS exhibition. The wiser course is to hone high standards, try to hold to them, and buy what moves you. It doesn't have to be a "killer." Some of my favorites are quite humble.

2. See "humble," above. There is a danger of waking up one day to realize one has a houseful of mediocre rugs.

3. There are two groups worth considering:
a) Baluch.
b) Other interesting rugs.

4. I've had most of my stuff forever. Yet, I remember many that are no longer here. That Dokhtor-i-Qazi, for example. I don't remember how I moved it out. It wasn't the best I've seen, a bit tired. I do recall thinking often, "I've got to get rid of this thing," then later being glad I didn't.

5. Not much unless I'm getting something for somebody else.

6. I do, if I can get them between cheap and nothing.

7. To a great extent.

8. Hmmmmm.... Have you ever seen one of those huge construction vehicles on the highway, with the sign on the back, "DON'T FOLLOW?"

__________________
Rich Larkin


Posted by Steve Price on 01-18-2008 05:46 AM:

Hi James,

Your questions and my answers.

1) To what extent have collectors moved into the "best of type" collection mode, where the impetus is to save up for that "killer" piece?
That doesn't happen with me and Jean, never has.

2) To what extent would people consider themselves to be "opportunistic", in the sense that any decent piece that suits one's short-term budget is seductive.
That describes our collecting style.

3) Have people started to focus their collections on particular tribal groups or formats (i.e. bags or utilitarian pieces), or do they stay deliberately "eclectic"?
We're pretty eclectic, even in the geographic sense.

4) How much "turnover" is there in collectors' collections, or do most people keep most things forever? If they keep things, why?
We rarely dispose of textiles. Why? No good reason. It's just how things are.

5) How much does "decorative" considerations influence purchases (i.e. that just wouldn't fit or go with my furniture and other stuff)?
Not at all.

6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?
Not at all.

7) To what extent do people purchase pieces on "ethnocultural" grounds (i.e. eschewing obvious "commercial" weavings, however nice).
It's a factor, but not the only one.

8) How many folks collect for financial reasons, focusing on pieces that they think will appreciate in value? If they do, what types of pieces do they think have a lot of "market upside"?
About 10 years ago I wrote an article on this subject that appeared on Turkotek during the Tom Stacy ownership era. My opinion hasn't changed significantly since then. A link to the article is here.

Regards

Steve Price


Posted by Marty Grove on 01-18-2008 08:05 AM:

Bitten

G'day all,

Thanks Chuck for an opportunity to expose our most private tastes, where rugdom is concerned and James for your specific requests...

1. Buying covers so many variables; finances, opportunity, wow factor, colour, age, structure etc etc. And it has to be within an extremely limited cost. I would be the poorest rug collector even before collecting!

2. Because of the above you wouldnt think much of my lot.

3. Deliberately all rustic, with the hope they have some residue of nomadic mystery. Have no 'classic' pieces unless you call a Kashan or Indo Mir classics.

4. Hang on to everything with the exception of those I give away, in two types of gifts - best pieces to most beloved, lesser for variety of gift reasons.

5. Only one main criteria for all pieces, that they are not garish. Have no problem with age, synth colour or otherwise as long as the piece attracts me enough, regardless where from.

6. Will save any worthwhile piece of handwoven material, of any size/age, from destruction if as Rich says, costs nothing or is within constraints financial.

7. All my handwoven material is commerial I am fairly sure; most pieces I paid good money for! Havent the money to be ethnocentric although I aim for the hint of it if I can.

8. Any self respecting ruggie likely would not be too enamoured with my stuff and if it were put to market, I really doubt it would bring 10c in the dollar at the pawn shop. But I love all of it because I was bitten by the rug bug at an early age and feel so very fortunate and lucky...

Regards,
Marty.


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 01-18-2008 07:06 PM:

Hi James,

1) To what extent have collectors moved into the "best of type" collection mode, where the impetus is to save up for that "killer" piece?

What Steve said, except my wife's name isn't Jean..

2) To what extent would people consider themselves to be "opportunistic", in the sense that any decent piece that suits one's short-term budget is seductive.

What Steve said

3) Have people started to focus their collections on particular tribal groups or formats (i.e. bags or utilitarian pieces), or do they stay deliberately "eclectic"?

What Steve said


4) How much "turnover" is there in collectors' collections, or do most people keep most things forever? If they keep things, why?

What Steve said


5) How much does "decorative" considerations influence purchases (i.e. that just wouldn't fit or go with my furniture and other stuff)?

What Steve said


6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?

What Steve said, plus, I sometimes buy to fill a hole in the collection with the thought in mind that it would be nice to have an example of "that particular weaving style". BUt it still has to appeal to me aesthetically.


7) To what extent do people purchase pieces on "ethnocultural" grounds (i.e. eschewing obvious "commercial" weavings, however nice).

What Steve said, plus, we don't eschew strictly commercial weaving if it's very nicely done. Much of the work Van Gogh generated was done so he could pay his bills. It's still art and it's still interesting. It's just not ethnographic, which is something we definitely prefer in weavings.


8) How many folks collect for financial reasons, focusing on pieces that they think will appreciate in value? If they do, what types of pieces do they think have a lot of "market upside"?

That's a dealers game, not a collectors game

__________________
Chuck Wagner


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-18-2008 10:30 PM:

Me? Serious? Don't Be Ridiculous!

Rich,

You asked:

"Patrick,

You're not being serious. "

Of course not. I don't really have a psychiatrist....

Patrick Weiler


Posted by Richard Larkin on 01-19-2008 09:24 AM:

Patrick,

Too many long lonely nights in the underground bunker, counting the rugs. It isn't healthy. I read about a guy once with a similar situation, except it wasn't rugs. It was Scrooge McDuck, and he was counting money!

__________________
Rich Larkin


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 01-19-2008 10:27 AM:

James, Chuck and all,

Nowadays I consider myself as a collector on sabbatical, unless I discover a decent rug shop on the Turkish side of Cyprus, which I doubt (no, never bought on e-bay and, I prefer don’t even look, lately).

Try to understand me: just moved (again) to another country, (once again) in a rented apartment. The essential stuff is put in order, but we still have to decide where to place most of our decorations, textiles included… with the perspective to move again in a couple of years and the hope, perhaps, to buy our own place.
Add to this the financial burden of a son studying abroad and you will agree that’s better not being exposed to temptations.

Like Rich, I can speak at the past tense, however: without going point by point, I can say that I am an opportunistic and eclectic collector on a very limited budget: I buy what I like and can afford, without worrying if it fits with the furniture. Some pieces were never displayed.

The only “killer” pieces I own are a few ethnic swords an knifes but no textiles… well, perhaps I could strangle somebody with that jajim band.

Fragments were bought only because I liked them – and I knew I couldn’t afford a whole specimen.
What I buy I keep, unless I give away as gifts, same as Marty.

I don’t collect for investment. Actually, the “financial” is one of the reasons that makes me suspend collecting. Better focus on real estate, now. Preferably a bunker.
I’ll ask Patrick for advice

Regards,

Filiberto


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-19-2008 01:00 PM:

Keep your Powder Dry

Filiberto,

I have only one suggestion. Good drainage.


Posted by Paul Smith on 01-19-2008 03:05 PM:

Greetings...

First, I have to ask Richard about his Dokhtori Qazi: if you have images of it, could you post them on the other thread?

There is definitely a part of the rug collecting world that is a handful of terrifically wealthy people acquiring incredibly rare and exquisite weavings for insane amounts of money, but what I find attractive about the world of rugs is that there are enough lovely weavings out there that people with knowledge and appreciation can find things that are still affordable.

1) I think "best of type" is distinct from "killer piece." There have been times when I have had a windfall, and I have taken my budget out into the world to find something that really inspires me. It may be "best of type" for me, but I wouldn't enter the discourse about what the "experts" think is best. The Dokhtori Qazi I posted on the other thread is one such purchase. Clearly the formal ones are "best of type" according to the experts, but I prefer my slightly wacky and slightly later version.

2) From time to time, my eBay searches turn up something that is nice for a very silly price, and I am not above taking advantage of the situation.

3) Though I have items from a variety of ethnic groups, in general I am drawn to Baluchis. Mea culpa--I am a Baluchotekker. I keep seeing weavings from them that inspire me. But I also seem to have collected a few South Persians, and I can't afford to get as far into Turkmen weavings as I would like.

4) At one point I purged a bunch of early purchases that had evil dyes. Otherwise, I have held onto my collection.

5) Decorative considerations do come up. I make sure not to purchase any furniture that doesn't go with the rugs.

6) I did once purchase a very cheap Afshar in poor condition that starts with nice wool/dyes and wool wefts and then about one third up switched to cotton wefts and not-so-nice wool pile. I like it precisely because it seems in one weaving to tell the story of the end of nomadic life. I think fragments can be beautiful, and I have purchased them for that reason more than for study.

7) It is my impression that we are on shaky ground determining what is commercial and what isn't, and certainly the assumption that something woven to sell means that it is in any way of less value artistically is very suspect. I am a musician who sells his work, and I try to make the best quality work I can. I am likely to be a little more sloppy with stuff that I make for my own use, in fact. How's THAT for turning our assumptions on their collective heads!

8) Because the professional dealer community appears to me to keep so much information hidden, I think it is impossible to be too serious about long-term investments in this area. I figure that when my kid sells some of this stuff off, it will look like a good investment. He won't know what I paid for it.

Paul


Posted by Richard Larkin on 01-19-2008 04:41 PM:

Hi Paul,

Sorry, no images of my old Dokhtor-i-Qazi. I had that one shortly after the invention of photography. It was decent, but not with the high color saturation of yours, for example, and I think maybe Steve Price might have a beauty. It was also evenly worn and a little limp in the handle. Big difference betweem "limp" and "supple."

You have a very good point about "commercial" vs. "authentic." The debate usually makes my teeth itch, but I think there is a difference between frankly workshop rugs that might flood the market, and the conscientious work of a skilled artisan and craftsperson that might be for sale. I think one can often sense the effort, pride and quality that was put into examples of the latter group, as well as experience the manifestation of the weaver's cultural heritage.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-19-2008 09:04 PM:

Fate Intercedes!

Paul,

You wrote "I figure that when my kid sells some of this stuff off, it will look like a good investment. He won't know what I paid for it."
Unless he unloads the whole worthless pile of junk to an unscrupulous, shifty shyster (very few of them in the rug biz) he may be pleasantly rewarded by your tasteful, prescient purchases.
My father had collected a dozen or so paintings by regional Northwest artists. He passed away 10 years ago and none of his kids have sold any of them. They may continue to remain in family hands for another generation or more.
My rugs, on the other hand, will either be left in the recycling bin or be sent to the rummage sale where they will be bought by insightful collectors for their dogs to sleep on or to be used as doormats - if they don't end up in the dump.
You also noted that you "purged a bunch of early purchases that had evil dyes".
I have a large pile of similar purchases awaiting a similar fate. Could you e-mail me your contact list???

Patrick Weiler


Posted by David R E Hunt on 01-20-2008 12:45 PM:

Hi James,

In response to your many queries

1) To what extent have collectors moved into the "best of type" collection mode, where the impetus is to save up for that "killer" piece?
Best of type, to my thinking, is hypothetical. As you see more rugs, have a better idea of what is out there, your best of type will change. This hypothetical "best of type" of mine is the mental yardstick by which I evaluate weavings I encounter on the net and in the market. Unfortunately, on my income I am always saving up for something, so I am more of an opportunistic buyer. Always look for that "killer" piece.

2) To what extent would people consider themselves to be "opportunistic", in the sense that any decent piece that suits one's short-term budget is seductive.
While I could classify most (but not all) of my purchases as "opportunistic", I tend to focus my buying power upon items that are similar to those which I already own, Baluch,Turkmen, Central Asian, etc.. But I think a key term here is "decent". Strive for "good"

3) Have people started to focus their collections on particular tribal groups or formats (i.e. bags or utilitarian pieces), or do they stay deliberately "eclectic"?
I am most attracted to smaller bags and utilitarian pieces. In the least, they are less expensive than main carpets, and much easier to store, display etc.. Eclectic is fine, but I think focus can result in a better collection.

4) How much "turnover" is there in collectors' collections, or do most people keep most things forever? If they keep things, why?
I regret having gotten rid of some things, it does happen ( and for myself, out of ignorance, not "understanding" what I had). But some were definately good riddance.

5) How much does "decorative" considerations influence purchases (i.e. that just wouldn't fit or go with my furniture and other stuff)?
Paul's assertion of not buying any furniture which don't go with his rugs, captures my sentiments exactly...

6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?
One primary reason for buying the subject of my recent post, the Berber pillow, was to study it's structure and design. It is still an interesting object,aside from this utility. I sometimes purchase artifacts which reinforces or exemplifies a quality which I have learned about in weaving, such as, say a balouch prayer rug with distinct Turkmen motives. Still, I buy primarily because the object is either interesting or beautiful, and preferably both ( thanks to
Le Courbesier)

7) To what extent do people purchase pieces on "ethnocultural" grounds (i.e. eschewing obvious "commercial" weavings, however nice.
Personally, I think an excellent addition to your collection can be both of the above, simultaneously. The real fun lies in sorting them out.

8) How many folks collect for financial reasons, focusing on pieces that they think will appreciate in value? If they do, what types of pieces do they think have a lot of "market upside"? Good luck collecting for investment. Tastes are fickle. Better to be a collector/dealer and become familiar with the market, what's hot and what's not, and buy accordingly. Most anything of high quality has a market upside; the secret is to be on the right side of the equation when buying.

David R E Hunt


Posted by James Blanchard on 01-20-2008 11:08 PM:

Hi all,

The responses to my initial questions seem to be quite consistent among the sample who have responded so far.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, although I bought my first rug about 20 years ago, I still consider myself a novice at this hobby have really only begun trying to learn about rugs a few years ago. So here are my answers to the above questions...

1) Best of type? "Killer" pieces?

In the earlier part of my learning curve this question was irrelevant since I didn't have the wherewithal to distinguish the good from the better. I am not sure that I have reached that level yet, but I do find that a smaller and smaller proportion of rugs look good enough to justify the asking price. While this might sound absurdly smug, at this point the rugs that seem obviously better than my modest group are usually quite a bit beyond my budget. So I anticipate that future acquisitions will be fewer and farther between, and my latest acquisitions have actually been rather mundane; a large Afghan to warm the floor of our dining room and a luxurious "Mushwani" design Baluch for the foot of our bed. Neither of these are "collectible" per se, but they were good investments for our interior decor.

2) Opportunistic?

I would say that I am somewhat opportunistic, but have also "targeted" a particular type from time-to-time and kept my eyes open for a suitable version. A while back I was looking for a good S. Persian carpet (Qashqai or Khamseh) and eventually picked up a couple after about 18-24 months of looking here and there. On the opportunistic side, last year I was snooping around at a shop in a rather disinterested fashion when I stumbled upon a nice M.A.D. carpet (lattice type) for a really good price. I sheepishly emailed a picture to my wife who thankfully said "buy it, you goof!" (or something to that effect).

3) "Eclectic"?

Yes. I have a handful of rugs or weavings from Turkoman, Baluch, S. Persian and Caucasian weavers. I like having the variety for two reasons. First, it has encouraged me to read more about each of these weaving groups. Second, the mix makes the ensemble more interesting. At this point, I think the rugs of greatest interest to me are the "quasi-tribal" rugs of the Ersari and other M.A.D. weaving groups and Baluch-type rugs. I think the reason for this current interest of mine is that rugs and carpets from these groups often show great individuality and originality in design, often with abstract principles. In this regard, they seem to be a bit less restrained than Turkmen weavings (though I still find excellent examples of these to be fantastic), and they have a bit more artistry than the voluble S. Persian rugs.

4) "Turnover"?

None, yet. I still own all of the pieces I have bought. It is not necessarily due to sentimentality, but I haven't taken the trouble to try to sell any.

5) "Decorative"?

Sometimes this is a consideration, to be honest. In particular, when buying a large, non-collectible carpet the colour is important (no garish synthetics, please). Having said that, we are in the midst of repainting the interior of our house and the wall colours are being selected to fit our rugs/carpets, not the other way around. Besides, don't naturally-dyed rugs go with any colour?

6) "Purchase to understand"?

I have done this on occasion, but the opportunities to do this are few and far between. Actually, this is partly why I much prefer to shop "in person". I like to spend time with a lot of different rugs and carpets to note the differences in colour, structure, handle, etc. This often avoids the need to purchase as many "learning" pieces.

7) "Ethnocultural considerations"?

Definitely, though I am objective enough to realize when I have moved beyond facts to sentimentality in this regard. Still, I like having pieces that were woven for a purpose. More importantly, I like the concept of buying "tribal art". By that I mean that I like to buy pieces that were woven to convey something of interest, value or aesthetic appeal to a particular ethnocultural group. I realize that it is sometimes hard to know exactly which pieces fall into this category, but the idea carries some weight with me when I consider a purchase.

8) "Investment"?

This is not really a consideration for me, though I do like to try to pay a "fair market value" for a piece. Still, my decision about whether to purchase a piece I really like is never based on any sort of future value calculation.

I have one more question to add to this list, in case anyone is interested. That is...

9) Do you think that your acumen in purchasing rugs has improved significantly over time? If so, at what point do you think you reached a plateau (if at all)? Do you think you have regressed at all?

I'll give my answer to this question right up front. Although I think that some of my best purchases occurred very early in my progress, I think this was mostly dumb luck and perhaps an attraction to good colours. Frankly, I do think that there is a danger of regression once one gets badly infected by the "collector virus" such that some purchases are made in a hurried and indiscriminant fashion. In the introduction to Jeff Boucher's book on his collection, Pinner remarks that Boucher made a string of "unhurried acquisitions" at a time when the pressure on the Baluch market was low. It strikes me that sometimes opportunity (or the relative lack thereof) might lead to some less than stellar acquisitions, and this is perhaps a danger for novice collectors (like me). In a subsequent post, I will try to illustrate my spotty chronological development, which might convey the impression that I actually haven't learned all that much (but I think I have).

James.


Posted by Marty Grove on 01-21-2008 09:58 AM:

Progression or regression...

G'day Chuck, James and all,

Probably more because my accumulation of weavings has no purpose other than the sheer pleasures experienced by their appearance and tactile qualities rather than their exceptional material, I have never considered myself a collector. While my stuff is generally rubbish compared to a real collector, I like to think it is the best rubbish I could find.

Growing up around numerous types of handwoven materials (my background is Swiss and English) my tastes have always been eclectic although more naturally drawn to the rustic tribal things rather than workshop perfect although I confess to a soft spot for the odd Herez; I would more readily drop to my knees and pore over any old Hamadan, Bergamo or Baluchi type,but there was little to make me rapt on seeing an Isfahan or Qum regardless the fineness or quality of design.

As a consequence, while my knowledge base has been enlarged and corrected considerably from many books and more accurately from Turkotek, my initial tastes have not really changed. I still like the rough old stuff providing it looks a bit different from everything else, and has nice colours whether natural or otherwise.

One could correctly say that my skills in perceiving the better items from those more ordinary have more than likely progressed, although while saying that, I dont really think my tastes have altered much over the years either, so the collectability of my weavings remains extremely poor compared to what is generally displayed here on Turkotek, tho I wouldnt say my tastes have regressed.

And James, the quality of those items you have shown us over the years remain consistently strong and interesting, and I think confirms your eye and taste (and luck).

Regards,
Marty.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-21-2008 11:24 PM:

You Have It Backwards!

James,

Your question number six is one I have thought a bit about:
6) How many people purchase pieces (including fragments) primarily to better understand weaving history (structure or design)?
I did not answer it in my first post other than

The reality is that as I have accumulated different pieces the study of their construction, history and design followed, not preceded their purchase.
(An exception to this tradition is that I do not have any reverse sumak or weftless sumak weavings and I will be more likely to buy one that appeals to me precisely because they are structurally different than any other weavings in my collection.)
How many other types of things can we acquire that allow us such a rewarding, timeless and lengthy inquiry into their origins, history, construction, design, provenance, age and beauty?
(members of the opposite sex not included)
As Marty said "the sheer pleasures experienced by their appearance and tactile qualities"


Backwardsly yours,

relieW kcirtaP