Page view of liveauctioneers.com showing Ignazio Vok collection prices
As we have already written the seemingly stunning results of the Vok collection part 1 sale are unbelievable, as least as far as RK is concerned.
Our suspicions aside lets have a look at what happened.
We are not going to discuss the suzani, as this market is one we do not follow. By the way, RK once had a collection of suzani but we sold them all in 1975.
These pretty but far too urbanized, workshop, embroideries never really interested us much but they were fairly easy to find. However, as soon as we learned enough about real antique carpet collecting, and the superior wonders of early flatweaves from the TransCaucasus and then Anatolia, a suzani just didnt make it for us any more.
Not to say they really ever did; after all they were all drawn by a master and then the young girl embroidered the do-it-by-the-numbers design the master had drawn for her. So basically there is no real inspiration or art, and while the best early examples are genuinely respectable weavings they lack the guts, the true grit, the spontaneity and the historic connections we personally are looking for in the weavings we collect.
While this might seem dismissive, even the best suzani are just another pretty face that has little to nothing to communicate to anyone seeking deeper meaning and historic importance.
OK, our take on the results for the kelim and the occasional soumak lots in the sale.
As far as RK is concerned the best, rarest and most valuable kelim was lot 3, the Ottoman kelim.
It sold for a ridiculously paltry 7,000 euro against an estimate of 8 10,000 that was in reality equally as undervalued.
Clearly rippons audience doesnt know what RK knows, in fact the bidders on this lot and many, many others, proved to know little if anything about which kelim should be bought, and for how much.
Maybe Ignazio Voks name carried far more credibility than we are giving it credit.
Was this why bidders got so carried away and bid at comparably extreme levels for many less than stupendous, forget about masterpiece, weavings he formerly owned?
Sure seemed so.
The Ottoman kelim, lot 3, once upon a time was sold at Lefevre auction galleries in the late 1970s where it made, if our memory is correct, about 20,000 english pounds.
The rippon-boswell/Vok estimate of 8,000 10,000 euro for that reason alone, forget the rarity factor, was decidedly foolish to the low side
The buyer at the Lefevre sale was neil winterbottom and we do not remember when he sold it, nor do we know when and how Vok acquired it.
We do know, however, the successful bidder for lot 3 got the bargain of the sale, as early Ottoman kelims, and this one is early enough, are rare, rare, rare; plus it has excellent color and solid pre-Vok provenance as well.
Lets compare the Ottoman kelims price, 7,000 euro(all prices are listed without premiums) with the next lot, lot 4 that made 12,000 euro and you will see what RK can only call ignorant bidding at work.
Although many would consider Lot 4 pretty, it lacks any of the attributes which make a great, forget about masterpiece, Anatolian kelim.
Its nothing but a derivative weaving with no historic connection, no real captivating power or soul.
And besides there are several far better examples of the type extant.
Granted they were/are not for sale, so no discussion on that.
But there is on the price disparity, ie, 5,000 euro, that demonstrates what we will refer to as ignorant, nonsense bidding.
Note both lots 3 and 4 sold below estimates, something we predicted would happen throughout the sale and have not been proven wrong.
Lot 12, the Yuncu kelim made 10,000 euro against the 12 15,000 euro estimate.
Nothing but an unbelievable price considering this Yuncu is late, and terribly disfigured with glaringly mediocre restoration even the photo in the catalog can't hide.
It surely looks far worse in person, the buyer must have been intoxicated on maltzahn/Vok koolaid to shell out 10,000 euro plus 25% premium for this monstrosity.
Lot 15, the Azeri jijim horse cover sold for 6,000 (estimate 6 8,000 euro) to who we might ask?
Definitely someone who has never been into a good oriental rug shop where late 19th century covers like this are easily found and can be bought for half that price without even spirited bargaining.
Lot 20, the Belikesir kelim was one of the only two Vok kelim with pseudo-historic significance. We predicted it would eclipse the estimate, and it did selling for 22,000 euro against a 12,000 15,000 estimate.
It was one of the few kelim lots to significantly exceed its estimate, which shows at least two bidders were smart and awake enough.
Compare that price with the 74,000 euro lot 28, the seriously over-heralded Dragon soumak, brought to see ignorant bidding at work.
Frankly, we do not like this soumak one bit and know several others which can easily leave it behind in their dust.
Its just too obvious a weaving, with none of the suspense and intrigue the best transCaucasian soumak communicate.
Regardless of a hypothesis promulgated by alberto borelevi, and others like john weretime and Nick Wright, that holds most Dragon soumaks were made in workshop/factories (probably most were considering their cookie cutter patterns), there are others which clearly werent.
It is these that have those qualities Voks sorely lacks because its also a workshop/factory product.
Clearly the buyer, paying 74,000 euro, bought the hype and name, not the weaving.
Dont mistake RKs intent, lot 28 is a good piece, its just not a masterpiece, nor a weaving worth anyway near 74,000 euro plus 25% commission.
Though 74,000 euro is a goodly significant piece of change, and far more expensive than the 26,000 euro lot 31 brought, we find that price equally excessive.
The 18 23,000 euro estimate it carried seemed totally unreachable to us pre-sale, but cutesy animals do sell well to a nave, inexperienced audience, this being the only explanation for such a result.
Had the animals been artfully scattered over the field and interspersed with a plethora of interesting minor motif, such a weaving might be worth this price.
But here the unthoughtfully, stiffly designed and boringly executed row upon row of the same animal designs just doesnt make it art or wondrous in our eyes.
Nor is it folk art. Its amateur-level craft-work at best.
Though we see it as uninspired and not inspiring, we will grant its cutesy but is it cute enough to warrant 26,000 euro plus 25% commission?
RK has says No, and we doubt when and if it comes up for sale again it will sell as well.
Laughable is the only way to see rippon-boswell owner and auctioneer detlef maltzahns stupid catalog notes for lot 29, a late 19th century far from cute shadda, ie blanket.
Coarsely woven and with animal motifs reminiscent of woodcuts, the Vok example appears archaic. Made for home use, it constitutes an authentic work of folk art of narrative character that is in no way associated with commercial purposes.
By the later parts of the 19th century RK sincerely doubts any weavers remained untouched enough to be described as producing authentic works of folk art, maltzahns spiel nothing but blowing hot hype from between his lower cheeks.
Carrying a 2,500 3,500 estimate, it sold for 6,500 euro, surely to a buyer who is long on gullibility and far too short on the necessary expertise to differentiate maltzahns bogus sales talk from reality.
Plus the thing is God forsakenly ugly and would not be an easy sale anywhere else at even a 1,000 euro.
Lot 35, a decoratively colorful Kashgai box design kelim, brought 14,000 against a 4,500 5,500 euro estimate. A huge price for such a piece.
Once more who are these buyers and underbidders?
What wormwood have they crawled out from under to bid at rippon boswells sale?
And it aint early 19th century as maltzahn dated it for starters, try circa 1870. Nor is his hackneyed and absurd Look its modern art catalog caption anything but more worthless tripe.
At 14,000 18,000 euro estimate and with the following quotation being just part of the glowing catalog entry, lot 39 should have sold.
But it didnt.
The precision of drawing, memorable field design and excellent quality of the colours make this kilim one of the outstanding examples in the Vok Collection.
Heres an instance where maltzahns Vok catalog koolaid, plus some healthy spicing from Ebberhart Hermann who sold it years ago, failed to intoxicate any buyers.
RK has no idea but we do know it is one of best Anatolian kelim Vok purchased.
But any interest in older and genuine kelim does not describe the predilections of the audience this auction dredged up.
They proved enamored by solely decorative kelim.
And since there were no historic ones, nor ones even close, the Vok collection auction provided no indication what one would be worth today.
This is the major problem with the market for Anatolian kelim the absence of any masterpieces from the Archaic Period ever hitting the open market.
RKs Anatolian Opus has been viewed over ten thousand times and we can only imagine how it has influenced and educated kelim buyers.
We do know should an Archaic Period example show up RK will be a very serious contender for it.
But since none have turned up for the past 35 years chances are not very good anyone will get the chance to compete for one.
The other pseudo-historic kelim, lot 48, also as predicted bettered its estimate of 10 13,000 and sold for 18,000 euro.
RK was surprised this and lot 20 did not further out perform other far less important or rare kelim in the sale.
But again this group of buyers was looking for decorative pieces in good condition, not genuinely rare though damaged ones.
This could not be made more obvious than by comparing its price with the 14,000 euro paid for lot 49, a totally insignificant prayer kelim.
Lot 59, the so-called Karapinar saf, like lot 20 and lot 48, is a later version of one of the three of the most iconic Anatolian Kelim in the deYoung Museum collection, all gifts of Caroline and McCoy Jones.
Were there any real collectors of Anatolian kelim at the Vok sale these pieces would have made far greater prices. Fact they didnt proves our contention maltzahns buyers were not collectors at all but only open wallets there to acquire hyped, name associated, decorative kelim.
Lot 60, a totally derivative, somewhat ghastly Anatolian kelim sold for 22,000 euro, bettering the two and equaling those discussed above.
Amazingly ignorant buying, based on condition and hype/name, is all RK can remark.
Another perfect example of this ignorant buying is the comparison between lots 63 and 64, two Senneh kelim.
The first carried a 7 9,000 estimate and the other an 8 10,000 euro estimate.
Lot 63 is a very rare and beautiful major example of a scarce type; the best of breed being the Jenkins piece now in the collection of the Textile Museum, Washington DC.
Lot 63 sold for 6,000 but the other, a far lesser weaving that is fairly common and quite boring, sold for 8,500 euro.
Go figure, Senneh kelim like lot 64 are a dime a dozen whereas lot 63 is probably a generation or two older and eons rarer.
Why did it under-perform the other?
The only answer is an audience comprised of a bunch of rug dummy bidders led by an equally dopey expert, auctioneer and master hyper detlef maltzahn.
Eleven thousand euro for lot 71, a hardly ever seen but in the end boringly formulaic late 19th century Daghestan kelim? If we are not misten it too sold at Lefevre galleries in the late 1970s but we do not remember the price and have no time to try and locate our catalog.
Please now, who is spending their money for Vok collection mediocrities like this, where the only attribute is having been published several times more than 30 years ago in a book now considered tres old school?
Thirteen thousand euro for lot 72, a derivative to the max amorphous designed late 19th century piece of junk Anatolian kelim?
Guaranteed this dog will never have its day again.
Some say: If you know where to look money grows on trees, which might explain buyers at this sale who could not get rid of their filthy lucre fast enough and turn it into Vok collection heirlooms.
Granted, finding masterpiece kelims is alot harder than finding suzani, and no one can form a collection of outstanding examples over night. Nor at one auction.
And if one tries that route they will only end up where Vok has a collection with good but not great examples.
Heres another rug world truism: While most collectors know good from bad, they stumble seriously when trying to discern good from great, and even the very knowledgeable almost never can tell great from masterpiece.
So too are there gluttons who cant get enough, even if its only mediocre.
The Vok collection dispersal sale at rippon-boswell quite well proved both. It also seemingly proved RK wrong in thinking the market for Anatolian kelim was sophisticated.
It proved there is no market for Anatolian kelim unless they are decorative, 19th century, in good condition, come from a collection like Voks, and are sold at a venus fly-trap auction operation like detlef maltzahns rippon-boswell.