Published: October 27, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Material Culture
PHILADELPHIA – On October 21, Material Culture once again rolled out the carpets for another edition of its no-reserve sale of antique decorative and collectible Oriental rugs.
The firm regularly presents these auctions, and, as with past auctions, the fall sale provided a window into the allure of the category.
George Jevremovic, founder and principal at Material Culture, in 2018 decided to stage four to six high-value, curated rug sales a year. “There’s a pretty strong demand for rugs out there – and it definitely helps if they’re easily and affordably shippable – unlike antique furniture,” he told Antiques and The Arts Weekly at the time. “There’s a certain convenience factor in it, and we’re also able to post lots of photographs and respond to condition report requests.”
In this most recent sale, in which 299 lots were offered, a Star Ushak rug from Turkey, a Seventeenth Century example, was literally the star, selling for $26,800 to an American buyer against a $7/10,000 estimate. The 8-foot-6-inch-by-13-foot-11-inch floor covering featured wool pile, warp and weft and hefted 41 pounds.
Fetching a within-estimate $23,000 was a Persian Bidjar Rug, Persia, late Nineteenth Century from a private Philadelphia collection. It, too, featured wool in pile, warp and weft and measured 15 feet 1 inch by 25 feet 10 inches.
“The top lot in the sale, a classic Seventeenth Century Star Ushak rug from Turkey, is the sort of rug you’d see in a museum or in a period painting, and quite remarkable that it was in such good condition for a rug of its age and size,” Jevremovic said. “Another top lot in the sale and one of my favorites was the pristine mansion-size late Nineteenth Century Bidjar carpet from a Pennsylvania estate, sporting the full range of richly saturated colors that characterize the best of these Kurdish weavings, which sold to an American buyer.”
A late Nineteenth Century Bakshaish rug, Persia, with bold central medallion came out of a private Utah collection, weighed 80 pounds and measured 11 feet 5 inches by 17 feet 3 inches. It was bid to $12,800.
Except for the five-figure stars, most of the rugs are lower-priced inventory that typically comes out of estates or liquidation situations and channeled into no reserve auctions. The priority is to sell everything. The firm’s October sale was geared to do just that, with an attractive selection of distinctive, decorative and collectible rugs. At this level, Jevremovic said the split in sales is approximately 50-50 between trade and private. “We see a lot of private buyers willing to buy the most expensive rugs in our auctions,” he said. “We are definitely seeing an uptick in private buyers participating in our rug auctions.”
A winning bid of $8,950 took home a Mohtasham Kashan rug, Persia, late Nineteenth Century whose dimensions were 9 feet 10 inches by 11 feet 6 inches.
Long at 16 feet 12 inches (5 feet 2 inches wide) was a midcentury Caucasian example that earned $7,650.
Just below that price at $7,000 was a Persian Serapi rug with bold, geometric design. From the late Nineteenth Century, it featured wool pile, cotton warp and cotton weft and measured 9 feet 9 inches by 12 feet 3 inches.
Three lots crossing the block achieved identical final prices of $6,400. They were a silk and wool Tabriz rug, Persia, late Twentieth Century, 6 feet 7 inches by 10 feet 6 inches; a Persian Sultanabad from the late Nineteenth Century at 10 feet 6 inches by 13 feet 11 inches; and a Tekke main rug, Turkmenistan, early Nineteenth Century, at 6 feet 3 inches by 8 feet 1 inch.
Rounding out highlights among the top selling lots was a Kazak rug, Caucasus, mid-Nineteenth Century, 6 feet 1 inch by 7 feet 7 inches. It went out at $6,050.
In terms of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, Jevremovic said, “We place the highest priority on the well-being of our staff and the public, and we are practicing all of the recommended safety measures. Our auctions are live online, with phone and absentee bidding. Pre-auction exhibitions are by appointment only, and we request that everyone send us a list of the lots they want to see, which we prepare in advance for them.
“Overall this sale was quite successful, prices were good, and participation from buyers in the United States and abroad was as good as any time prior to the pandemic,” he said.
The firm’s next dedicated rug auction is December 16. Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.materialculture.com or 215-849-8030.
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