Collector’s Guide: 5 reasons why it pays to go Vintage

Ahead of Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets on 29th November, we investigate five reasons why we should all buy rugs at auction and give a sneak peek into the variety of pieces offered in the forthcoming sale.


A rug is the foundation of any room, so when buying at auction it is worth considering what look will work best for your home. It is always important to choose a rug that you love, as like an artwork, it is an investment piece that will last for many years. The forthcoming sale offers a selection of examples from across the world and the variety of sizes, colours and prices on offer promises to provide a suitable option.


With the ability to transform an interior space, rugs have inhabited domestic dwellings for hundreds of years. The term ‘rug’ was first used in English in the 1550’s, meaning ‘coarse fabric.’ However, it is only during the past century that hand-woven antique carpets have become recognised as works of art, as a small piece of rich and colourful history that each tell a story.

The origin of carpets continues to be shrouded in mystery, however we do know that woven forms of floor coverings were present during the Neolithic Age (7000 BC.) We also know that the nomadic tribes of central Asia invented the technique of knotting carpets. The rearing of sheep is a traditional nomad occupation and due to the extreme cold, it is clear that the craft of weaving developed in order to supersede the use of rough animal skins. For the nomad, a rug served both a decorative and practical purpose, functioning as floor coverings, wall hangings, curtains, door hangings and saddlebags.

The particular pattern, palette and weave of a rug is uniquely linked with the indigenous culture and weaving techniques are also tied to an identifiable geographic area or nomadic tribe. Each element of a rug design - pattern, colour, weave - would record the particular family of weavers behind its production. The days taken to hand weave these rugs is a far cry from today’s fast-moving production lines, yet as one of the oldest art forms, antique rugs represent a story of survival that warrant a place in the home today.

It was primarily through Italian merchants that Oriental rugs and carpets became recognised and valued in Europe, with Venice acting as a major trading hub. By the early 16th century, carpets inhabited the magnificent courts of Europe such as those of Catherine de’ Medici and Charles V. It is said that Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England, purchased sixty Turkish carpets from a Venetian dealer to furnish Hampton Court Palace.


Sourcing an appropriately-sized carpet that fits the requirements of a room can be a costly process and the retail value of a carpet is often a third higher than one would pay at auction. An auction house is a brilliant place for the collector and the antique carpets regularly offered present a more affordable solution.


Material, knot density and dye types are all factors that affect the quality and value of a rug. The natural dyes in an Oriental rug are derived from plant materials and insects. Before the 1870s, they were the only source used to dye wool. Since the invention of synthetic dyes, there has been debate about which type of dye produces a notably beautiful and investment-worthy rug.

Natural dyes generally tend to fade over time and thus produce a sought-after patina. The higher the quality of a carpet’s wool, the softer the texture. Hand-woven antique carpets made from naturally-dyed wool and noticeably vibrant in colour regularly surpass modern imitations. Several modern rugs are woven with low-quality wool that is more likely to wear rapidly.

Expert knowledge

Whether you are on the look out for a carpet to adorn your dining-room or need a runner in the hall, our knowledgeable specialists are able to offer their expertise on the market and source excellent and good condition decorative pieces from across the globe and in varying sizes, mediums and designs for private buyers and collectors alike.


For a complimentary, no obligation valuation please contact:

Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets Department page