Home > Auctions worldwide >'Archaic' ? Not Even Close
Fri, Jul 19th, 2013 11:07:57 PM
Topic: 'Archaic' ? Not Even Close

Archaic Period Anatolian Kelim fragment from the Afyon region; deYoung Museum Collection

RK has not bought an Anatolian Kelim since the good old days, circa 1979-1981.

Our being a well-known kelim collector, who has contacts as good as anyone to find them, you might ask why the decades long hiatus?

Simple answer: Because there are none as good as, forget better, than the ones we already own.

Archaic Anatolian Kelim are rare.

Fact is they are much rarer than just about any classical carpet, and this is one of the caveats against an Anatolian Kelim ever garnering the interest, and yes price category, those weaving achieve.

There are too few examples to create the structure all markets, especially art markets, require.

According to us, and as our Anatolian Opus published on RugKazbah.com proves, there are only eleven.

None of those are available, nor have any others been available since those good old days.

Of the eleven, two were already in museum collections one in the Vakiflar Museum in Turkey and the other in the Berlin Islamic Museum.

Four of the other nine ended up in the deYoung museum, and the other five belong to us.

So there is no supply, nor does it appear there will be in the future. No supply, no market simple as that.

Since those good old days we have had Anatolian Kelim offered to us by dealers, and other participant, who claimed theirs were archaic. All those claims were far from accurate.

We have also seen in books, auction catalogs, and on the internet, Anatolian Kelims claimed to be archaic.

All of these, too, fell far short of warranting such a designation.

Of course, we are not claiming to have seen every Anatolian Kelim that has been discovered since we bought our last one. However, we do believe we have seen far more than the majority of them.

We did, however, purchase two small fragments that others would surely call archaic, but in fact they are not. Rather they belong to the Classic period, the next category in RKs chronology.

One of them we illustrate below:

Early Classic period Anatolian kelim fragment; RK Collection

For those of you unfamiliar, there are four category: Archaic, Classic, Traditional and Commercial.

We proposed this classification in our IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim publication (1990).

We had never seen in print, or heard, anyone calling an Anatolian Kelim, or any type of oriental rug, archaic and our use of the term has mushroomed.

Too bad those who sling it around like a hula-hoop do not understand the parameters that make a kelim archaic.

Our fragment above surely looks the part. However when it is compared to one of same type that is Archaic period the difference should become more than clear.

Left: archaic period; Right: early Classic period

Which leads us into the topic of the day: The upcoming auction in Salisbury, England at the Netherhampton Auction Rooms where a collection of around 30 Anatolian Kelim will be sold on July 10th.

According to the publicity for the sale the collection was consigned for sale by a Dr. Ayan Gulgonen, from Istanbul, Turkey.

Some years ago, we think in 2009, we learned of the good doctors interest in Anatolian Kelim and asked a friend in Turkey to get us his phone number. Yes, RK does have friends regardless of the tripe, we are friendless, others claim.

We phoned Gulgonen and had a very pleasant conversation with him that lasted at least 45 minutes. He told us he had seen our IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL book but did not have a copy.

Nor did he know about the Weaving Art Museums Anatolian Kelim and Archaeology exhibition, which is a republication of that book.

We directed him there, and several days later received a kind email from Dr. Gulgonen telling us he was impressed by the exhibition, our collection, and our research.

He also told us we would hear from him soon, as this was in August and he and his family were on holiday

We never heard from him again.

And now his collection is being sold in a second tier English auction room? Go figure.

Alright enough social history, as RK likes to call the human side many stories of oriental rug collecting have, and lets spend a few words discussing the upcoming sale. As well as the hype/publicity it is spinning, both from the auction house and pundits in print and on the net.

Unfortunately for collectors like Dr Gulgonen the odds are severely stacked against them, more so than if they sat down at a table in a Las Vegas or Macau casino.

Frankly they probably would have a better chance there to make some money, and surely theyd have a better time.

Buying an Anatolian Kelim, or a rug, or any other weaving from a dealer is not exactly a sure thing to get something worth the money you are paying, or to in the future recoup that purchase price plus profit.

Yes, yes, RK well knows people buy rugs for enjoyment, or so many claim.

But after 45 plus years in the game RK has yet to meet a buyer who was buying only for enjoyment they all had money issues front and center.

Because archaic Anatolian Kelim are so rare the chance a Dr Gulgonen, or any other collector post the early 1980s, is going to score one is virtually non existent. And Dr. Gs collection surely proves it.

Had the publicity not included the word archaic in describing one of his Anatolian Kelim, RK would probably have not bothered to comment.

However, after reading the description for the best of the Gulgonen pieces, which is that said archaic wanna-be, we felt compelled to comment.

Lot 1895 so-called archaic Konya-Karapinar kelim

Holes and poor condition do not make an Anatolian Kelim archaic, and anyone who believes so needs some education. There are many factors necessary for such a designation, and condition is positively not one of them.

And while lot 1895 is an interesting and old weaving, easily as old as the 18th century date it carries in the catalog, it definitely is not Archaic period.

We have never liked this type, nor do we know of a pre-late Classic period example, which is by the way where we would place Gulgonens in our chronology.

We sincerely doubt one exists and the format of placing numerous mirhabic shapes in a stack does not appear to have any rational, or seriously ancient extant analogues in any other type of media.

It is, however, the only piece among the group Gulgonen is selling to be worth any comment from us. And it is, in our opinion, his best.

We did not see the 2011 exhibition in Istanbul organized by Seref Ozen where the Gulgonen collection was exhibited, but we did see photos of it. In our memory there was nothing better than lot 1895 there.

So we really do not know if there are earlier examples left in his collection, or even if there are other pieces besides those on offer, or those previously sold by Netherhampton.

If there are were willing to wager there are no Archaic period examples, but well be glad to lose the bet just to see one.

We wish Gulgonen success in the auction but will have to honestly say we doubt, regardless of the low estimates, more than a few will sell.

In closing we must also comment the seemingly low interest in Anatolian Kelim at auction is not due to the fact there are no buyers. Rather those buyers are educated and are looking for early examples, not more of the same they already own.

What would an Archaic Period example bring at auction?

We have no idea, nor does anyone else, but we will positively say the price would be high enough to surprise you all.

Author: jc
Fri, Jul 19th, 2013 11:07:57 PM

Once again, and not because RK has a world's best crystal ball, our prediction:

"We wish Gulgonen success in the auction but will have to honestly say we doubt, regardless of the low estimates, more than a few will sell."

was right on, and only two apparently sold.

It is naive to think at this stage of the game, and not only for Anatolian Kelim, the low interest in oriental rugs and the difficult "economic time" will allow marginal, mediocre, 'collector' weavings to sell well; be it at auction or privately.

Now only the best examples, those that are early with proven pedigree far beyond other comparables of their type, will preform and return not only "sold" but also sold for more than expected.

There is no doubt the number of buyers grows less each year. There is also no doubt each year those remaining buyers are learning the difference between weavings that are run of the mill and those which are earlier and creme de la creme.

Also, while condition formerly was an important ingredient it is, now, far less important. If a weaving is a noticeably early one buyer's now realize condition problems are to be expected in pieces that are early 19th century and older. They will also compete strongly to own those examples, as auction results consistently now prove.

The rule of thumb is "better to have a early but damaged example than a good condition mediocre one".

Sadly for Mr. Gulgonen his kelim were both damaged and mediocre. And that was a recipe for failure.

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