On October 24 Kaminski auctions of Beverly Massachussets USA sold the second part of the Bradley "family" rug collection which, when compared to the first part of their collection also sold by Kaminski and reviewed by RK (see Archive- June 26, 2005 & August 4, 2005), could only be honestly described as eminently inferior.
However, reading the as usual questionable and agenda driven 'hali-speak' that appeared on the magazine's website's review of the sale this morning, one would surely be hard pressed to realize our impression of the sale, as expressed above, was in fact the reality.
Here's what the reality benders at hali wrote:
"Across the Atlantic in New England on the same day, Kaminskis October estates auction (HALI 161, p.12) offered a group of oriental rugs, among them several smaller Turkmen pieces and some good-looking Caucasians."
"Good looking Caucasians"? Come on now, hali, is this the best you can do to describe such a sale? Where's all the alleged "rug expertise" you people are supposed to have?
RK can surely not see how making such a dumbass, ignorant and worthless one line commentary demonstrates anything but the fallacy you people are anything but over-your-head when it comes to properly describing events like the Kaminski sale, or a host of your other efforts RK could likewise denigrate.
Fact is the Caucasian rugs in the sale were at best end of the line, later genre period reproductions -- suitable as furnishing carpets -- rather than anything RK might describe as 'collectible' or heaven knows important.
In fact, all these supposed "good looking Caucasians" were not really anything but merchandise to be sold at a price -- and, after the hammer fell, many of them sold for far too much, at least that's our opinion.
But let's get to the meat of the matter that, like hali's amateurish "good looking Caucasians" comments, turns out to be more of the same.
We are talking about this:
" Star of the day was lot 49, a beautifully balanced and coloured classic Tekke six-gl torba, estimated at just $600-900, which soared to $15,525. This too, while not quite a world record for a Tekke torba of any design (that still belongs to another superb six-gl piece, from the so-called Tent Band Collection, sold at Sothebys in New York in December 1990 for $17,050, HALI 55, p.164), was well above public prices paid for such things in recent years, even including RBs Robert Pinner sale in May 2004. It was bought in the saleroom by a Massachusetts collector, reportedly bidding against the international trade on the telephone."
True, the ex Bradley collection Tekke torba, lot 49, was the best piece in the sale by far. But, considering the lack of any other notable Turkmen, Turkish, Persian or Caucasian weaving, calling this torba a "star" strikes RK as far too loose a use of that word.
True, the Bradley torba was a good one, a very good one, but we are sorry to say not a star.
lot 49, Tekke torba, ex Bradley Collection
The hali review was on terra firma in comparing it to the one RK formerly owned, which was sold by us at sotheby in 1990 along with 19 other Turkmen pieces from our pre-1990 collection.
Tekke torba, Plate 8, "Tent Band Tent Bag", ex-Cassin Collection
Comparing these two torba is an interesting exercise, especially when that comparison is done by someone with genuine expertise and not someone who, like the hali reviewer, is comfortable with spewing generalizations and obvious commentary.
Fact is the Bradley piece is not only considerably younger than the Tent Band Collection torba, and far less unique or historic, but it is not nearly as beautiful and alluring.
RK purchased the Tent Band torba in the early 1980's at one of the early John C.Edlemann auctions. The under bidder we bested was that rug creep ronnie newmann who, had he known even half as much as RK did, would not have let us carry it out of the auction for 3,750 USD.
Now then, 3,750 USD, was a very high price for a Tekke torba back then. But when the torba was a champion pre-1800 example, like the Edlemann piece was, it was a first-class bargain.
We are sorry but because RK decided sometime ago to refrain from disseminating too much information and further educating the competition for the types of weaving we collect we are not going to explain the reasons the Tent Band collection torba was far superior to the Bradley piece.
That said we will mention a few of the more easily observed differences:
1.Notice how the Tent Band torbas main gol are incomplete and truncated by the side borders. This drawing style is extremely rare in Turkmen weavings, and especially so in Tekke products. It is believed by many, RK included, to demonstrate the weavers belief the torbas gol were not a static and fixed in place but rather part of a limitless and far larger universe, one that exists outside and independent of the borders which in almost all other Tekke torba define the usual confined space Turkmen weavings exhibit.
2.Notice the unique tertiary gol between the minor gol in the Tent Band example. This icon is quite reminiscent of certain similar icon found on some early Saryk weavings, particularly engsi and certain chuval.
3.Notice the Tent Band torbas far more complex and delineated main border. In fact, RK considers it to be the prototype for the more simple and two-dimensional one on the Bradley torba.
There are a number of other differences and perhaps our more astute and experienced readers will be able to determine them without our assistance.
Suffice it to say the Bradley torba was a good buy and we congratulate the new owner on his purchase.
Time is now ripe for detailed and intensive commentaries concerning not only Turkmen weavings but all other types as well. It is also time for rug journalists and pundits, like hali, to leave behind in the dust words like star which say nothing but leave an impression of importance without properly explaining why.
Also, though the 17,500 USD price paid for our torba at the aborted and highly corrupt Tent Band sale at sotheby in December1990, still is a public record it surely is not the record price paid for a Tekke torba. Far from it..
And BTW: the "Amu Darya" prayer rug sold recently in Sweden for almost 120,000 USD, which was the other piece mentioned in the hali review, is, like the Tekke torba, similar to two earlier and far more historic examples - one in the Dudin Collection in Russia and another early example of the type that was at one time offered by a now disgraced austrian dealer.
Again the prayer rug that just sold in Sweden, like the Bradley torba, is a very good example of an extremely rare type of Turkmen weaving but, also like the Bradley torba, it is really not in the same league as the other, closely related, examples we have cited.
If RK has any one bone to pick at with hali it would be their inability to properly place weavings like the Tekke torba and 'Amu Darya' prayer rug in the continuum of similar examples and, of course , within the far larger corpus of known Turkmen weavings.