In the Beginning
Some thoughts on starting an oriental rug collection (See also: Collecting Book List)
Some people hate rules. So here are a few suggestions.
Suggestion # 1: Don't Buy a Rug
Begin your collecting career by not buying anything. Actually, don't buy a rug. Not from me. Not from anyone.
Suggestion # 2: Do Buy a Book
Time to learn a little bit. It’s not hard or technical. Sadly, some collectors extraordinaire treat all this like bio-chemistry or something. Remember that simple folks living in primitive surroundings made these things.
Suggestion # 3: Buy One of These Books
You don't even need to read the book if you don't want to, although I hope you do. You must, however, look at the pictures. See which rugs are considered good examples of the various types of rugs. And why they are considered good.
A couple of good comprehensive introductory books are Oriental Carpets: A Complete Guide, Updated and Revised (1998), Eiland, Jr. and Eiland, 3rd and Oriental Rugs by Jon Thompson (Dutton NY 1993). Eiland's book, although a little short on great rug pictures in color, has a lot of good stuff in it. Thompson’s book is my favorite. It is well written, has good photos, and is written so I can understand it. Buy one or the other – you don’t need both at this point. For additional books and resources see our Book List page.
Suggestion # 4: Specialize (This is the fun part)
Collecting old rugs is a visual experience. What type of rug appeals to you? What looks good-not just the first time you look at it but the second, the third, the fourth. To develop confidence, concentrate on the type of rug that holds a special appeal for you. Read more about this type and view more of these rugs. Collecting is a personal thing, not a competitive sport. If it looks good to you, it’s a good rug for you. Sophistication in collecting comes with time, knowledge and experience.
Suggestion # 5: Look at Rugs - and Buy One
Time to start looking at rugs and perhaps buy one. Remember, we're talking about old/antique rugs. New ones don't count. See if any local dealers have an inventory of old rugs. But be considerate of his/her time. The established auction houses (Sotheby/Skinner/Christie) are good places to see many old rugs in one location. It is best not to buy at auction at this point. Check the Internet, use e-mail to ask questions (it is convenient for everyone and less intimidating). Find a dealer you feel comfortable with. Buy a rug. Learn more about the rugs that hold a special interest for you.
For more information, see our Collecting Book List, or view our online Thumbnail Catalog for examples of fine collector pieces.