lot 24, Tekke torba with top and bottom rows of 'cut torba gol', rippon bowell May 2012 sale
From several reader's reports, some who attended the sale and others who didnt, we have been able to put together a pretty good picture of what happened at rippon-boswells major spring auction. It was a success although much of the mediocre material that predominated, and selling for low to mediocre prices, will never return much real profit or eyeball enjoyment for the buyers.
Afterall, does owning a closet full of mediocre second rate examples of Turkmen weaving give anything other than a type of gluttonous satisfaction.
The story of lot 2, the ex-broido engsi, is a perfect example. We discuss its price degeneration below, here we mention a far less obvious but far more salient point.
Lot 2, a Yomud family engsi recently sold at the Doctor jonathan broido sale at Nagel, lot 10, March 22, 2011.
The past forty year history of the market for antique, collectible, oriental rugs is a pyramid, which is getting progressively smaller at the top.
Regardless of the prices for certain exemplary and very early examples, which is an inverted pyramid with a top that is getting larger, the audience is shrinking. This is fact and anyone who disagrees is either an idiot or in denial.
We are not going to try to explain why this has happened, nor why we believe this trend will continue.
We will unequivocally state it is going to get harder and harder to sell mediocre and second-rate Turkmen and other oriental rugs, so whatever success one wants to herald from recent boswell, and grogan, sales RK sees this as only hype.
The story of lot 2, the ex-broido engsi tells it all.
Do we need also mention ten years ago many of the lots in the boswell sale would have brought (significantly) higher prices?
The reason is the aging demographic of collectors, the inability of those who are in charge of rugDUMB to generate significant sizzle to get a new and younger audience interested, and the inherent cronyism, deception, and yes deceit, visible to anyone with good eyes who might consider venturing into rugDUMB.
To continue: As we wrote the estimated prices were all over the board, but most pitched at rock bottom.
We certainly do not know who the consignors were but either maltzahn brow-beat them into submission to get such low prices or they were desperate as a ship-wrecked and out to sea in a dinghy for two months sailor is for a canteen of water .
Again, this is another very visible result of the shrinking market.
That said most of the material deserved the low prices, and considering the shape of the rug market even more so.
However, there were some prices for equally mediocre and barely collectible merch in the sale pitched at old time (for boswell) high estimates.
Apparently, and not surprisingly, the audience of buyers was willing to pay more for some of the far too cheaply placed lots, ignore others and do the same for the minority carrying far healthier price expectations.
RK has repeatedly maintained there is no real market in the truest sense of the word for antique oriental rugs, and if we are wrong(but we are not) that market is definitely shrinking. Once more this sale, and almost very other one we have ever witnessed, prove it admirably.
So lets take a look at the few lots we previewed, and a couple of others but remember the official prices have not been published so what follows has been gleaned from the reports of several trusted and reliable sources.
The first lot we discussed, lot 2 the ex-broido collection engsi, made 1500 euro, more than we expected but definitely not enough to cover its original cost let alone profit for the dealer who purchased it, were he the consignor.
Its not a bad example; its good in a loose meaning of the term, but its far from great. Considering its wacked condition, lack of outstanding color or iconography we are rather at a loss why someone would want it at 1500 plus commission..
Being a rather common type, along with the deficiencies noted above, it demonstrates there is a market for older Turkmen pieces(remember we never said there wasnt), albeit at quite distressed prices.
The fact it sold at Nagels broido sale not so long ago for 1700 euro and then appeared at boswell selling for a bit less shows the difficulty in selling pieces like this anywhere but what we call a hand-holding auction venue(the underbidder being the hand-holder).
As we said after purchasing it at Nagels the dealer(michael craycraft) tried hard to sell it and whether or not he actually did, and at what price remains unknown to us. The engsi then appearing at rippon-boswell and selling for less surely bodes poorly for its alleged virtues and any real market for it.
OK enough on this uninteresting engsi and on to others.
In our preview we wrote:
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.
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 1, Tekke torba, rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
lot 22, Tekke torba, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
Heres how they did on the block:
lot 1 sold for 1,300 euro
lot 22 sold for 1,800 euro
lot 24 sold for 3,900 euro
In a race for mediocrity lots 1 and 22 were neck to neck, and the small change buyers paid will elicit no further comment.
However, lot 24s buyer deserves a pat on the back, for this purchase is one that will return enjoyment and eventually profit.
The greatest it aint however, as we wrote, it is head and shoulders above either of the two others and the little more than double the price is money well spent.
The two Beshir torba we pictured, lots 4 and 39, sold for 600 and 1,300 euro respectively. Again neither is a important, what is notable the better example sold for less.
Two Middle Amu-Darya(MAD) torba, lot 4 above, lot 39 below, rippon boswell May 2012 sale
No accounting for taste or the lack of it, as RK likes to quip.
A similar fate, the better example selling for less, suffered lots 54 and 78. Granted we did not view either but only the presence of extensive repair and repiling could have kept the price of 78 down.
Beshir prayer rugs, lot 54 above and lot 78 below, rippon bowell May 2012 sale
And since his catalog entry lacks such mention we can only think either this is another example of maltzahns proven lack of truthful and honest comment about repairs/repiling, or audience stupidity.
No matter the buyer got a bargain and RK heartily offers our congratulations. To the buyer of lot 54 we offer some condolence.
There was no bargain for the buyer of lot 145, the so-called by maltzahn Begama with the Ghirlandio pattern even though it sold for 16,000 euro well below the 25,000 estimate.
Lot 145, the so-called in the catalog 'Bergama', rippon-boswell May 2012 sale
As a decorative accessory for fido to nap on, what can one say other than there surely are many more, and better, opportunities on which to spend 16,000 plus commission euro to cover a floor.
We find workshop rugs like this boring and completely derivative.
Plus were pretty sure boswell did far more to hype the rug in private than he did in the catalog, which basically says nothing, to convince some nave and trusting soul to compete for it.
Probably the only competition was the consignors reserve, or perhaps that active chandelier and back wall tag-team.
To be continued, stay tuned