Antique Rug Collectors Guide


Collecting antique Oriental carpets is a fascinating and, for many, lifelong endeavor, providing an intensely personal opportunity to develop and to continually retest one’s own sense of beauty and virtuoso technique. For that reason and many others, collecting 19th century Persian and tribal rugs has always been an attractive venture.

Collectors are drawn from all manner of society, including well-known historic figures such as William Randolph Hearst and John Rockefeller. In the 16th century, King Henry VIII was reportedly in competition with Cardinal Woolsey for the best rugs coming from the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, and from Persia.


For the Novice


To the untrained consumer, buying antique rugs and vintage rugs may seem daunting and intimidating. After all, there are so many different styles, so much history, and so much to know in general. Below, find an educational and informative series of articles designed to assist you in your quest for an antique Oriental rug all your own.

To start to get a sense of how to put together a collection of art-level carpets, either for their aesthetic and cultural worth alone or to furnish a fine home with carpets that will appreciate in value, we offer a few guidelines:


How To Build An Antique Rug Collection


Rugs are works of art that are unreproducible. Many people assemble a rug collection of substantial uniqueness and rarity. There is an impassioned, intimate group of international connoisseurs who recognize the artistry of the most exquisite antique rugs. Their appreciation grows as new generations discover these exceptional weavings.

Build An Antique Rug Collection

What do antique rug collectors look for?


Collectors literally see rugs differently from other people. They look at rugs creatively, through the lens of knowledge, in a way that allows them to see past problems of condition or damage in order to appreciate the artistic worth of a great piece. At times they are not motivated by the immediate impression that the rug may make, but rather by its uniqueness or its historical importance. In the latter regard, collectors depart substantially from the great majority of rug buyers and enthusiasts.

What do antique rug collectors look for

The Seasoned Rug Collector


While many a collector is driven to assemble a group of rugs to fill a residence, collectors buy solely what piques their personal aesthetic sense. Every city workshop, village and tribal group had its own signature design vocabulary and color palette. Because Oriental carpets come from an artistic tradition more than 4000 years in the making, each “style” has been developed into a mature understanding of art. One collector may fall in love with the very finely woven city and town rugs from the regions of Kirman, Ferahan Sarouk, Tabriz, Kashan and elsewhere, while another may seek the primitive qualities of carpets from the village of Bakshaish in Northwest Persia or the tribes weaving in the Caucasus Mountains.  A third group of collectors explore across the gamut of the art form, finding the diversity itself is what fascinates and satisfies their interest.

As with any form of collecting, moving from novice to veteran involves an investment of time and resources. The process can be endless, and is thoroughly engaging all along the way. As one moves from the carpets that one started with into more and more rarified strata, the excitement and personal rewards from each new acquisition continue to be one of the driving motivations for collecting rugs. At some point, whether one invests $100,000 or $15 million into their collection, it becomes clear that what started as a passion has become the most exhilarating of addictions. There are those who have their own museum, rug vaults and cellars.

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