This is what a Ghirlandio medallion looks like on a genuine 18th century Anatolian Village rug, something which lot 145 in the rippon-boswell sale wishes it could express, read on...
This sale has what we believe is the greatest percentage of Turkmen rugs rippon-boswell has ever presented and tried to sell.
Clearly this is no accident, as maltzahn controls every aspect of his operation like a mother hen with a new nest of chicks, so there should be little doubt this is no accident or fluke.
And there should be no wonder as well, for Turkmen rugs are presently the hottest and most sought after type of collector rug, and boswell is only following fashion. Lord knows he and just about everyone else in rugDUMB's hierarchy are too bereft of original ideas or thoughts to do anything else, forget about them making it.
It has been many decades, well at least since the late 1960's, rug dealers or 'scholars' set the path and since then it has been the collectors who have determined what is in and what is out.
Of course RK is speaking here of non-Classical weavings because the so-called Classical (Ottoman and Safavid) have assuredly been fashionable since rug collecting began and have a trend-line showing no decline.
But sadly for boswell's bottom line few of the Turkmen pieces in this sale are good enough to attract active bidding from the small, highly affluent and motivated clique of buyers, who of late have demonstrated prices for rare and genuinely early Turkmen pieces can go only one way and that's up, up, up.
Almost all of boswell's Turkmen pieces, besides a couple of less than best of type 'S' group examples and a tiny smattering of others of diverse origins, only rate 5 to 7.5, of a possible 10, and quite frankly RK would not be interested in any of them, even for free.
But this does not mean they will not find buyers, as we are sure there are a number of johnny come lately wanna-be Turkmen collectors in boswell's roladex, and some will undoubtedly get their paddles stuck together in competing at prices quite a bit higher than the stupidly low venus fly-trap estimates in the catalog.
Those other Turkmen offerings, besides the 'S' group ones, fall in the 8 to 9 range and deserve serious consideration by any buyer who wants to collect Turkmen rugs. We will mention a couple and naturally the unsupportable low estimates will be shattered, so do not think for one minute these will go off the block anywhere near their silly 'schtzpreis'.
OK, enough preamble, now let's demonstrate proof positive what we have been saying.
RK intended to do this chronologically, following the numbering in the catalog, but we cannot help putting lot 2 first, even though we do have something to say about number 1.
Lot 2, a Yomud family engsi recently sold at the Doctor jonathan broido sale at Nagel, lot 10, March 22, 2011.
RK believes it is completely disingenuous for maltzahn not to acknowledge this engsi was sold at the Nagel 'broido' sale a little more than one year ago. It was purchased by, so we have heard, michael craycraft who has, also as we have heard, tried to sell it from Maine to Spain with, also as we have heard, no success.
It was estimated in the Nagel auction at 1000 euro and it sold for 1700 hammer price plus Nagel's healthy commission.
We do not know, or have heard, if craycraft is the consigner but, regardless of who gave it to maltzahn, not listing its provenance from the broido collection and Nagel sale is just one more notch in boswell's belt of less than honorable acts.
The 300 euro estimate it carries in the rippon-bowell sale catalog will surely be bettered but we'll bet our proverbial donut holes to dollars its hammer price will not break 1,000, forget about providing profit over the 1,700 plus commission it made at Nagel.
While RK dislikes the practice of purposefully placing silly low estimates on auction lots, we do recognize the psychologically attractive incentives many auctioneers believe they impart.
But by and large these auctioneers are not professionals in the collecting areas such pieces belong and, in short, their ignorance of the actual values these objects bring in the specialized marketplaces collectors and dealers make might excuse their folly.
But when someone like maltzahn, and a firm like rippon-bowell, who trumpet to high heaven their alleged eminent position in the field of selling antique oriental rugs, and their expertise as well, dish out such ridiculously low estimates it rings hollow as a bell with no striker.
However if this were not bad enough, the blatantly obvious disparity of estimated prices for objects of similar, or even superior, quality makes mockery of their trumpeted prowess, the honesty of their estimates, and lastly their respect for the intelligence of their audience and clients.
RK has looked carefully through this catalog; it was not hard to find a number of examples where two lots of similar quality had quite divergent estimates, and others where a superior item was estimated for less than an inferior one of the same type.
It is some of these instances that will make up the bulk of our preview.
lot 1, Tekke torba, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
lot 22, Tekke torba, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
While neither of these antique Tekke torba could be called anything but average the disparity in their estimates is surely noteworthy. Lot 1 carries a nonsensical 250 euro 'schtzpreis' and lot 22 is pegged at 2,500.
RK can only see this as either abject stupidity on the part of maltzahn, who is the only cataloguer for his firm, or a clear and present sign there is some hidden agenda.
Does lot 22 belong to a favored consignor, or perhaps even the auctioneer? Or is it just the opposite: Lot 1's enticingly low estimate placed to garner interest, and lot 22, at a 10 times higher estimate, to assure it will languish for interest, and in the process make buyers go after lot 1?
Trying to figure out the reason(s) for such an obvious disparity is a moke's game and RK is surely not interested in playing, our suggestions offered only to start readers thinking.
There are several other Tekke torba in the sale, the best of which is lot 24, a very rare type showing halved upper and low rows of major torba gol, and many other superior elements compared to any other in the sale, especially lot 22.
lot 24, Tekke torba with top and bottom rows of 'cut torba gol', rippon bowell May 2012 sale
Estimated a only 50% more than lot 22, at 3,600 euro, this type of Tekke torba, lot 24, is one very few collectors own, and as such will, regardless of estimate, provoke some serious bidding. Watch for it to sell for almost double the estimate, or even more.
The fact maltzahn ignored citing the best of this type Tekke torba, because it used to be ours and is published in our Tent Band Tend Bag: Classic Turkmen Weaving publication, is perhaps understandable as he and others, who have been at the poking end of our pitchfork of truth, have demonstrated over and over no desire to acknowledge our name or the superiority of our former and present collection.
Here are two so-called in the catalog Ersari torba, lots 4 and 39, although RK would call the former Beshir, a subtlety turko-poseur like maltzahn invariably miss.
Two Middle Amu-Darya(MAD) torba, lot 4 above, lot 39 below, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
Check out the estimates, but first which do you think is superior, the answer clear as Tiffany crystal, one is far better than the other.
It is lot 4 and it carries a 200 euro estimate, the other lesser weaving, lot 39, an 1,800 euro one.
Nothing wrong here, move along...
Again we could suggest a myriad of reasons for this completely unnecessary price gaff, but one sure as rain is wet implies maltzahn has left himself wide open for all types of criticism.
Oh, yeah, we forgot this is rugDUMB where those on high, like a detlef maltzahn, who have their names plastered all over that rag hali, are never questioned, let alone called to task for their mistakes, greed, and stupidity.
Disparate as the estimates and perceived quality of the two Tekke torba cited above, they pale in comparison to these two Beshir prayer rugs in boswell's catalog. Also we presume boswell calling lot 54 an Ersari ensi is a typo; however, considering many of the wildly senseless and totally off-the-wall attributions he has contrived perhaps maltzahn really believes it is an Ersari ensi.
Beshir prayer rugs, lot 54 above and lot 78 below, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
Another of those rare constants in the rug game has always been the respect and admiration given, and rightly so, to Ulrich Schurmann's two seminal publications, one on Turkmen (Central Asian) weavings, the other on Caucasian rugs.
Sure, examples in both are not at all best of types, or great beyond belief, but there are no real clunkers.
And, OK, the fact lot 78 was published in Schurmann's Central Asian (Turkmen) book, plate 48, should not really entitle it to any undue accolade. But maltzahn's estimate it at 4,200 euro, and then calling it mid-19th century, is nothing but denigration of the first degree.
He's an idiot is all RK can say. Period. End of discussion.
But to add kerosene to the funeral pyre maltzahn has created for himself, check out lot 48's estimate: 7,800 euro, almost double the price for less than 50% of a rug!
What an idiot, or is maltzahn just incredibly disingenuous and running more hidden agenda here? Either way he deserves our characterizations, and worse.
Before we say sayonara we must point our finger at his most absurd effort at underestimation, this Arabatchi chuval with banner gol and halo-flower elem.
Arabatchi Chuval, lot 230, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
Estimating this circa 1800, rare, and quite good-looking Arabatchi chuval at 300 euro takes the cake in the face, and do not be surprised to see it sell for 5 to 10 times that foolish as can be 'schtzpreis'.
And, since we also mention his ability to overestimate, we conclude by pointing to what we see as his catalog's most obnoxious move in that direction.
Ersatz, so-called, Karapinar rug, lot 73, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
At 30,000 euro, according to us, that's alot of moollah to spend to keep the Lassie's butt warm on a chilly winter's eve, for that is the only place a miserably Europeanized, mid-18th century at best workshop, rug like this should end up.
Will the goo-goo dusting fairy make an appearance on Freidrichstrasse 45 on May 19th when lot 73 hits the block? Or will boswell have a number of chandelier bids competing with the back wall and a left bid?
Don't ask us, we would not bother to attend and watch a boswell sale if he paid us...and we all know that ain't gonna happen in anyone's lifetime, well anyone who knew Ulrich Schurmann.
Here's another unreachable over-estimation that in any honest market situation would not make even half the 25,000 euro 'schtzpreis'.
Lot 145, the so-called in the catalog 'Bergama', rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
While arguing the circa 1800 age guesstimate is pointless, RK would prefer a far more correct and conservative first half 19th century, stating this rug's overestimation is at least 50% or more isn't. Neither is the fact it is a mechanical, sterile and boring workshop product.
Again, even without the goo-goo dusting fairy, it is clear maltzahn has a stable of suckers who not only believe his patter but put their money on the table to prove it.
Will this sell at or near the 'schtzpreis'? We will have to say no, our guess this estimate is only a ploy to sell it after the sale, as boswell oft proves himself capable, at a somewhat lower but still far too generous a figure.
By the way, here is a detail showing an earlier, circa 1750, genuine Anatolian Village rug's version of the Ghirlandio medallion for comparison.
Left: detail lot 145, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale; Right: detail genuine Western Anatolian Village rug, circa 1750
Another absurdly over-estimated lot is 182, the so-called in the catalog 'ShahSevan' bagface. It goes a long way in proving maltzahn has a stable trusting buyers, as he recently sold its 'sister' for a similar eyebrow raising figure.
It is RK's opinion this soumak bagface is a reproduction, lot 182, rippon-boswell May 2012
Reading the comical explanation, errr description, maltzahn conjured is nothing but Three Stooges material. Here it is for those of you who need a good chuckle.
Catalog entry lot 182, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
Before the last one hit the block last year in the Spring sale (May, 2011), RK expressed our opinion it was a recent fake, and we have no reservations about saying the same here.
Clearly we are unimpressed by maltzahn's fairyland remarks aimed we are sure to convince one of his 'peeps' to open the wallet wide.
RK will be glad to wager this bag, or its sister, would not sell for more than a few thousand dollars in any real, and honest sales venue.
Remember what RK said publicly more than 30 years ago: The auction room has become the casino, and we all know the only winner there is the house.
Another over-the-top estimate, but one compared to the others we mention does have a modicum of merit, is lot 184, the Yuruk area Yatak-type rug.
Lot 184, Sarkislar/Yuruk, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
For the past two decades or so these rugs have had a far more 'stylish', than Yuruk, provenance hung on them: Sarkislar.
But as Shakespeare the wordsmith scribed A Yuruk, eerr a rose, by any other name is still a rose, errr Yuruk.
No doubt it's a very good example, surely an early one too, but 30,000 euro estimate for a cut and shut, visibly damaged 'fragment', that is not even the best of type, is stretching the pizza dough pretty thin.
But again it might be aimed at one of maltzahn's stable of punters or even a ploy to sell it post sale for somewhat less.
Anyway, we could care less the rational, the extremely questionable quality vs price ratio what interests us.
We are going to end this preview with our suggestion of the best piece for any Turkmen collector to go after and probably get for a 'reasonable' price, lot 179 a beautiful and rare Beshir weaving.
Lot 179, first half 19th century Beshir rug, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
There was a similar rug in a European dealer's booth at last years Dealer Fair in Stockholm (are our suspicions correct it is the same rug?). From all aspects this one is, like that one was, a winner.
We don't think it will elicit great competition and just might squeak through at a very buyable price close to the estimate.
Here, by the way, the estimate has a quality to price ration that is right on and true as a German autobahn straightaway.
And just so readers, or mr boswell himself, don't think we have been fooled, we noticed several Kazak rugs, dated circa 1900, that are nothing but reproductions.
RK has seen multitudes of these for sale and sold, over the past few decades, at sotheby, Christie and other salerooms, including boswells.
Caveat emptor is all RK can say....