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How to Buy a Rug

DISCUSSION ABOUT BUYING any work of art is difficult.It presumes that the writer knows better than the reader, not only from the commerical aspect, but also from the much more intangible viewpoint of taste. Also, carpets, like furniture or silver, have a functional as well as decorative use and any advice about buying must take into account the reason why a particular is bought.

There are essentially two ways of buying a carpet:

        at auction

        from a dealer            

In saying this, we are deliberately ignoring private treaties between individuals, and also assuming that we are dealing with carpets and other weavings of aesthetic merit. Most department stores  can provide the 'home decorator' with new carpets made in Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Hong Kong and , of course, on commerical looms in Europe and the United States; some of these are of reasonable quality , but almost all are machine made , either wholly are in part , and use chemical dyes. Except  for the finest Persian pieces, which in any case are very expensive and in short supply due to a very strong domestic market, it is improbable  that such pieces have much life in them. From an artistic point of view, they are not worth considering when it is still possible to buy hand woven and vegetable dyed carpets of some age and beauty for the same price. 

Buying a carpet is not simply a question of choosing something you like visually, and then paying for it. you have to be confident that it is in reasonable condition, that the web has not rotted(which means that it will fall to pieces within a matter of months and be irreparable), that it is free of moth holes, etc. When you buy a piece from a dealer , he will have had it cleaned and suitably repaired if necessary, or can advise you about what repairs can be done and their probable cost; he will also point out the presence of chemical  dyes and will give you , to the best of his knowledge, a guide to the piece's age and origion.

If he is a good dealer, he will, in other words, tell you exactly what you are buying. As to the price, it  is our experience that most serious carpet dealers, contrary to popular rumour , are very fair.They base their prices on their own estimation of the carpet's worth - both aesthetically and commerically - having regard to their costs and the generally accepted levels of similar pieces in the market place.