Home > Auctions worldwide >rippon-boswell's December Sale
Thu, Jan 6th, 2011 02:43:40 AM
Topic: rippon-boswell's December Sale

For some time now RK has lost interest in, and desire to, post here on RugKazbah.com.

The reasons for this are many but for one we might say the lack of vocal support we have received from the 100 or so active readers of this site might be numero uno.

We can name others but why bother is our perspective, as well as is the question why should we bother to post here at all.

Other than the fact there is a lot wrong with rugDUMB, and no one else has the guts and few have the knowledge to be able to properly critique and comment, we see little else to motivate our efforts. All that said clearly we consider it a type of duty and in that frame of mind we continue.

We also know there are a number of readers who appreciate what we do, and even more of them who come here to learn something.

RK believes in not only sharing what we know but we also respect the idea anyone who does know something, and we are not only talking about rug knowledge, has a responsibility to disseminate that knowledge.

This is the main ingredient that separates humankind from any other animal mankind has developed a highly efficient way to communicate our thoughts language and an even more efficient way to transfer it from generation to generation writing.

This is a primary reason RK writes, to share and communicate our thoughts to others as well as to try and ensure through book publication -- we have written five books on carpets and textiles and through electronic media our two websites, weavingartmuseum.com and RugKazbah.comour work will reach succeeding generations of rug aficionados and researchers.

Last week we mentioned our lack of desire to comment on the rippon-boswell sale, which is happening this afternoon December 4th, but nonetheless because of what appears above we decided to share some of our thoughts about several of the lots on offer.

Another reason we did not think we would write anything was the appearance of lot 181, a Saryk MC (main carpet).

As all RKs readers know we have been discussing another Saryk MC for the past two weeks and we did not want our comments about boswells to be seen as anything but purely academic.

Therefore, we decided to wait until the day of the sale to post them, as we believe what we have to say about lot 181, as well as what we have already said about ours and will continue to say, will provide some food for thought for todays Turkmen fanciers, as well as for those who will in the future have the opportunity to become ones.

Here is a picture of lot 181 and a detail of a corner:

Here is a photo of a corner of ours and a detail of the major gol:

Lot 181 is dated in the catalog as 17th/18th century and while no one knows what the date for any historic Turkmen rug might be, or actually is, any 17th/18th century guesstimate has to be seen as one that is very early.

Frankly, RK does not agree with boswells dating but for arguments sake we will not quibble with it, nor do we believe the piece is a late one.

On the contrary, it is an early example of a very rare type but it is not as early or as significant as either of these two:

textile museum, Washington D.C., ex-McMullan collection

Islamic Art Museum, Berlin

The difference in the major gol in our MC, which has the Timurchin, in comparison to the more common Ersari type lobed-gol, aka Gulli-gol, in lot 181 and the other two is a very telling feature but it is not the only one.

In his description to lot 181, detlef, aka boswell, maltzahn mentions two other similar carpets one illustrated in Wie Blumen in der Wuste and the we illustrate below(ed: we erred in our initial reading of boswell's description and this carpet, lot 181, is the same carpet which sold at sotheby London and we illustrate below):

sold at Sotheby London in 2001, lot 97, for 3600 including buyers premium

This carpet was presumably bought by an astute attendee to that sale, mr. David Reuben, and subsequently published for sale in his catalog Gols and Guls II.

RK has had some brief contact with mr.Reuben and while we found him to be amiable and friendly we do not believe his knowledge of Turkmen rugs is substantial enough to be considered as expert.

He is, like detlef maltzahn, someone whose ideas need to be taken with far more than a grain of salt, wed even suggest a large shaker might not be sufficient.

Like many of maltzahns ideas, Reubens theories expounded in his two publications are honestly laughable in many instances, but as he is not the subject of this discussion lets leave that sleeping dog alone.

It is quite interesting, and typical for a salesman and not a connoisseur like maltzahn, that he does not cite either of the two examples above that are far superior to lot 181 and instead pretends they do not exist.

There is little doubt lot 181, and the two others he cites, are early Turkmen weavings, and as an aside they are the prototypes for the multitude of later Ersari and Beshir examples.

However, it and they are not 17th century; wed suggest a mid-18th century date for lot 181, and perhaps a late 17th century one for the McMullan and Berlin pieces.

Now then date-wise where does this leave our Saryk Timurchin gol MC in comparison?

We can only believe it is at least a century before any of these others and that would put it into the 16th or earlier, where we seriously think it belongs.

The 58,000 euro price boswell projects as a minimum is, in our estimation, way too high but with the avid interest and sweaty-palm passion for early Turkmen weavings of late RK would not be surprised to see it sell at that price or a bit higher.

Were there really a market for early Turkmen weaving a piece like lot 181 would be two or more times that but since there are only a few collector/investors with purses fat enough to splurge out at that level even 58,000 euro must be considered a good result.

RK, in fact, does not really like lot 181, we find the major gol to be quite boring and while the unusual minor gol is surely not boring its articulation lacks the finesse, a granted earlier and better one, like the McMullan fragment displays.

Also the main border is rather squeezed and the secondary minor border far too large in comparison they almost over-power it, a trait no 17th century Turkmen MC would ever exhibit.

We should also state the c14 dating information for lot 181 described in the catalog once more demonstrates what RK sees as a lack of real source dating provenance information this technique implies for Turkmen rugs.

In closing we did not, nor do we now, wish our comments from deterring any would-be buyer for lot 181 it is an outstanding and rare main carpet. However, we felt it necessary to state the facts rather than to let stand unopposed what a hustler rug-salesman like detlef, aka boswell, maltzahn chose to publish in his catalog

Here are a few other lots RK would like to mention for the record.

This western Anatolian weaving is not 17th century by a long shot. Again boswell is pulling dates out of his rear-end. Its an interesting 18th century village workshop pastiche assemblage and nothing more.

Read the catalog entry with that salt shaker handy.

This so-called bug sumak khorjin is correctly dated in the catalog but we find it to be a rather poor example of the type.

Compare it with this one in our collection and you will see why.

prototype so-called bug khorjin, published Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth as well as in the Weaving Art Museum online exhibition of the same name, plate 3; http://www.weavingartmuseum.org/ex2_main.htm

While boswells bug khorjin is a mediocre example, another sumak khorjin, of the what we call compass-type, he is offering is hardly worth mention.

We do so only to publish our archetype of the group for comparison.

archetype compass khorjin, published Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth as well as in the Weaving Art Museum online exhibition of the same name, plate 6; http://www.weavingartmuseum.org/ex2_main.htm

Again we publish these two comparison not to brag or show-off but to demonstrate the vast differences between a masterpiece example and ones that are mediocre and less.

Before we leave the sumak khorjin grouping in the sale we must mention this lot.

Like the sumak bag we recently called a reproduction, RK harbours similar thoughts about boswells; however, we are not as sure and until we can examine it in the flesh we will have to say it is questionable while the other one we are positive is reproduction.

The next lot we chose to comment about is this Ersari rug boswell ridiculously calls an engsi

The presence of a synak border does not an engsi make as the Belouch rug we formerly owned aptly proves.

Granted the Belouch is not engsi size, and boswells offering is. However neither synak nor size does an engsi make.

The major requirement for a rug to be called an engsi is the presence of a four-quadrant field, as well the synak border. The size of all engsi varies but any that are abnormally large or small are in our viewpoint, again, highly questionable.

Speaking of engsi this lot, which boswell declares to be an early and 18th century example is once more in our eyes nothing but a late, ungainly, and ugly we might add, piece of Turkmen loom-work.

Frankly we would not pee on it if it was on fire, and the fact maltzahn does not publish an estimate, stating it is only available on request, makes his dating ever more ludicrous. We close this examination of the rippon boswell December sale with the following lot he is offering and two comparison photos.

The easily observable similarities these three pile Kurdish khorjin exhibit also can be seen, by those with expertise and experience, to demonstrate their differences.

The first example in the boswell sale is the latest and worst example of the type we have seen.

The second, which was offered for sale on the internet several years ago is a good example of the type.

The third, which you guessed it.RK owns, is the protoype for the group.

Spend some time comparing them and you will learn a something or two, not only about a rare type of Kurdish bag but also about how to discern a masterpiece from a good example and from a poor one.

We will close with a comment about how certain rug experts view such a comparison, one which RK believes is based on age and on no other factor the earlier example is the best and the later ones not as well done copies.

These experts say we are wrong and they consistently voice, incorrectly RK must add, the following:

They are all the same age and the differences are do to the fact one weaver was a better one than the others.

Hog-wash is all RK can say to those who believe that, as well as those who believe detlef, aka boswell, maltzahn is a carpet expert and not the know-little rug hustler salesman we have repeatedly profiled him to be.

Author: jc
Thu, Jan 6th, 2011 02:43:40 AM

We recently learned the Saryk main carpet buyer of record was ziya bozo-lu-lu of Perugia ITaly.

He was, according to several sources, on the phone and bought it.

Now, RK knows for a fact he was acting on someone else's behalf and although we are pretty sure who that person is we will not publish this until we are positive.

One thing is for sure bozo-lu-lu was only an agent, surely not the buyer.

Author: jc
Sun, Dec 19th, 2010 06:51:46 PM

RK has just been informed boswell has published the "results" of the December sale.

Seems somewhat less than 50 percent sold -- 123 lots are listed as "sold" out of the 279 in the sale.

That's a 44% sold rate.

Frankly considering the economic climate, ever increasing 'sophistication' of rug collectors and the dwindling number of them, as well as the not large number of really 'stellar' rugs on offer, we think boswell did pretty well.

The buyer of the Saryk MC is still unknown but we have heard 'supposedly' who bought it and as soon as we can confirm this we will publish the buyers name.

And, oh yes, the results of the September sale are still unpublished...did mr boswell forget to publish them? Is he so embarrassed at the low percentage of sold lots? Or does he believe by not doing so will erase all memory such a sale ever happened?

Probably, we'd suggest, all three.....

Author: jc
Tue, Dec 14th, 2010 12:13:02 AM

It's now more than a week after the sale and still maltzahn has not seen fit to publish his results.

Nor has he published them for the last sale which was way back in September.

Pretending to be a camel and hiding his head in the sand, as one would do, speaks volumes in supporting RK opinions of mr boswell and his rug casino...errr, 'scuze us auction.

Author: jc
Wed, Dec 8th, 2010 10:12:17 PM

According to our sources boswell himself said the December sale was the worst sale he has had in the past ten years.

Seems only a few pieces did well and the vast majority of other lots were either sold at relatively give-away prices or unsold.

While this might auger poorly for the antique collector rug business RK does not exactly see it like that.

In our view, and we are we are not the only one to realize this, exceptional pieces, be they truly early and important like the "S" group kegebe boswell sold for 40,ooo plus euro or the Saryk capret in this sale which made 70,ooo euro, there are a number of buyers willing to step up and bid.

Granted both of these lots were Turkmen and we all know Turkmen rugs are now the most sought after of any type.

However, RK is sure were any Caucasian, Anatolian or Persian pieces of equal age and historic value to cross the auction podium, be it at boswell's, sotheby, Christie or any othe auction, they would perform equally well.

The problem is not the market but what is offered to it.

We must also add that market is a small and thin one but it is large and strong enough to return good results, and to do it time after time.

The buying passion for exceptional pre-1800 collector weaving has not died, what has died is a broader 'market' for mediocre and even good examples.

What remains is a far smaller and far more sophisticated market, one which is willing and able to absorb, at ever increasing prices, the few exceptional pieces that are offered to it.

This is the only conclusion to be drawn from not only boswell's weak sale but from the others that have taken place over the last 2 years or so.

Author: jc
Sun, Dec 5th, 2010 03:09:23 PM

Here a brief recounting of what happened at yesterday's sale.

1. Few attendees, cold, snowy weather blamed but RK knows differently. Today, few people are interested in old rugs, collectible or otherwise, and just as few want to spend any money on anything, as fear of the economic future is here and ever present.

2. However, there were a number of phone bidders on a few of the lots.

3. The Saryk MC was one -- it sold for a very respectable 70 thousand euro (about 96 thousand dollars).

4. Who the winner was is a topic of debate among our sources but RK is more interested to learn who was the under-bidder because, as we often have written and said, this is the person who makes the price at auction, not the buyer.

5. That miserable, late, ungainly and ugly Ersari engsi made 51 hundred euro(about 7 thousand two hundred fifty dollars) a very strong price for a nothing of an engsi.

6. That price proves well what we have repeatedly said -- there are few, in any, well financed collectors who can tell a genuinely early Turkmen weaving from one that just look like one.

7. The middle Amu Darya, aka Ersari, seven sided asmalyk, which we did not illustrate or discuss for our own reasons least of which was any desire on our part to own it, sold for 16 hundred euro(about two thousand three hundred dollars). This was, in our opinion, the buy of the sale regardless of the fact it was coarsely woven and supposedly late. It surely was not early, ie pre-1800, but it had charisma, a design with great movement, and it was old enough to be respectable. Congrats to the astute buyer.

Perhaps more to come on the sale....or perhaps not.

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