Home > Archive >More on the Morton/Bradley Sale
Author:jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Thu, Aug 4th, 2005 06:14:26 AM
Topic: More on the Morton/Bradley Sale

Now that the dust has finally settled and we have some time to continue our report, here are three more pieces of interest – all of them prayer rugs - that were auctioned from the Morton Collection.

The first is a Konya area piece that surely looked to be pre-1850 from the photos: However, a closer hands-on inspection revealed some areas of synthetic dye in the spandrels above the mirhab. Notwithstanding that fact, we still liked the exuberant use of design and colors this diminutive prayer mat displays.

The border, while somewhat of a pastiche, still in our opinion works extremely well in its balanced relationship to the broad open field. We also especially liked the rich purple weft selvedge, as well as the super saturated red, blue and green found elsewhere. This is an excellent example of a post 1860 Konya prayer rug and it well deserved the price it made in the sale.

The second of the prayer rugs, and my favorite of this triptych was this very unusual west Anatolian, probably a Bergama, prayer rug: Although the major border was far from unusual, almost every other design aspect was. Notice the roundels placed up and down the green inner guard borders. This design is based on a very similar one found on Seljuk rugs and we do not know, nor do we ever remember having seen it anywhere else, needless to say not on any mid-19th century rug.

Also the large, seemingly ungainly checkerboard rectangle dead set in the middle of this rug and the equally oversized concentric medallion it houses are about as unusual – should we say weird – as it gets. But believe it or not we liked the end result and had this rug been early 19th century it would be hanging in the den right now!

Notice also the icon placed just under the mirhab. This design should be familiar to our more astute readers, as it is exactly like one found on the elem panels of Salor ensi.

What’s it doing here??

The rosettes in the field and the quirky drawing in the small red panel above, and the larger one below, the center medallion also have a Turkmen flavor. It should be patently clear to any serious student of Oriental Rugs there is a relationship between early Turkmen and Turkish rugs and the appearance of these designs, particularly the one found below the mirhab, can surely been seen as a small part of this relationship.

As disparate as many of the patterns found on this rug are, somehow they all work together and, quite frankly, we were charmed over and again by this little prayer rug. It sold for, in our opinion, a quite attractive price.

The last of these prayer rugs was a Kuba area one: It has good, non-synthetic, colors but they were not as brilliant or as rich as the two Turkish pieces. We liked the honeycomb warp finish that remained mostly intact as well as the incorporation of the mirhab with the innermost guard border. This feature is another unusual one and it gives this prayer rug, again a small sized example, an extra-added design boost.

All that said in its favor could not change the fact of its somewhat too coarse weave and highly typical border and field patterns. Nonetheless, it is a rare variant and for any collector of this type of Caucasian prayer rug we think it would be a must buy.

That’s about it for now but note we still have a few other photos from the sale and will, in the near future, post them and some additional commentary here as well.

Author: jc
email:
Thu, Jul 21st, 2005 05:48:54 PM

Bo Bo:

Like the bad penny you keep coming back even when you say you're gone.

Try as you may you can't change history or re-write it.

If you were important enough to me or the rug world RK would prove our assertions but, alas, little man you're not.

Author: Beau Ryan
email:
Thu, Jul 21st, 2005 04:30:19 PM

BR's response:

Jack, your assertion that I was on the phone is as incorrect as your retracted statement that the other mat was purchased by an astute New York dealer. I wasn't on the phone at all during the sale of the Salor, nor for any of the other pieces that I purchased. As for this converstation, it's over. I only wished to correct your mistake.

RK's reply:

Listen Beau, I was there and saw you talking on the phone and agonizing over the rising price. You were talking and holding the cell phone to your ear the entire time the auctioneer was selling the piece.

WRONG

Were you doing that for effect or were you, like Linus, holding the phone as a security blanket.

If I am Linus then surley you are Pigpen

RK is never afraid to say when we make an error but in this instance your insistance we are wrong is totally incorrect.

Talking about yourself in the third person is a sign of schizophrenia.

As for your presumptive and pompous statement this conversation is over -- we dont even agree this is a conversation, let alone accept your positions other than the fact you bought the Shah Sevan mat -- remember this is our playground, bat and ball and you, dear Bo Bo are nothing more than a wanna be player.

Ooooohhh, MY ball, MY bat, MY playground, MY sandbox. Was your upbringing in Westchester that deprived? So take your miniscule rug knowledge and grand-daddy's checkbook back to where ever it is you call home but remember RK was here long before you and will be here when you are long gone.

Never had "grand-daddy's" checkbook despite your best efforts to spread innacurate rumors and since you are considerably older than I am I highly doubt that you'll be anywhere but dust blowin' in the wind when I'm long gone.

Author: Beau Ryan
email:
Wed, Jul 20th, 2005 05:18:00 PM

Jack, your assertion that I was on the phone is as incorrect as your retracted statement that the other mat was purchased by an astute New York dealer. I wasn't on the phone at all during the sale of the Salor, nor for any of the other pieces that I purchased. As for this converstation, it's over. I only wished to correct your mistake.

RK's reply:

Listen Beau, I was there and saw you talking on the phone and agonizing over the rising price. You were talking and holding the cell phone to your ear the entire time the auctioneer was selling the piece.

Were you doing that for effect or were you, like Linus, holding the phone as a security blanket.

RK is never afraid to say when we make an error but in this instance your insistance we are wrong is totally incorrect.

As for your presumptive and pompous statement this conversation is over -- we dont even agree this is a conversation, let alone accept your positions other than the fact you bought the Shah Sevan mat -- remember this is our playground, bat and ball and you, dear Bo Bo are nothing more than a wanna be player.

So take your miniscule rug knowledge and grand-daddy's checkbook back to where ever it is you call home but remember RK was here long before you and will be here when you are long gone.

Author: jc
email:
Wed, Jul 20th, 2005 04:52:52 PM

Because you found someone to buy the Salor piece means as little as the disregard you and the rest of the audience at the sale paid to the Kurdish palmette rug.

On sale day I did not, nor have I ever based my buying decisions on what happened yesterday, last year or thirty years ago. And while you are correct in stating I have owned far better examples that has nothing to do with my assessment of the fragment of the Salor torba you bought or my lack of interest in it for more than $3,500.

Sure if a thirsty man on the desert comes upon a few drops of smelly, brackish water he will, naturally, drink it. Whereas that same man sitting in a three star restaurant in Paris with a bottle of Perrier and Dom Perignon on the table would surely not.

So, the fact you bought the torba and sold it for a profit means nothing in the real world. Yes you say you made a profit but in the larger scheme of things what does that really say?

For me it say your "client" got taken because anyone who pays too much for something inferior, whether or not they know what they are doing, is never a winner. Sure we all know fools tread where wise men never go and that, dear Mr Ryan, is the crux of the matter here.

I realize you might not see it that way, or even agree with that logic, but it is irrefutable.

On the other side of the coin, however, is the purchase of the Kurdish palmette rug. Remember wise men tread where fools would never go as well.

I don't have the time to flesh out the entire raison d'etre for you here, Beau, but believe me it is easily perceived.

Selling rugs successfully has nothing to do with successfully collecting great ones. Often what appears to the untrained eye as nothing can often, to the expert’s, be something and what shines brightly in the in eye of the untrained is known to be fool's gold to the cognoscenti.

Let's also remember, Mr Ryan, you were on the phone during the entire period the Salor piece was being auctioned and I will bet donuts to dollars the purchaser who bought the Salor piece from you was on the other end of the line. So you were, in fact as I see it, only an agent doing someone else's bidding for them. As such your stance as a purchaser is as dubious as the merits that Salor piece had in your, and the underbidder’s, eyes.

In the end, no-one cares about this but you and should you want to wager some money with me I will bet you 10 years from now the Kurdish palmette rug will outsell the Salor fragment, even in the whipped condition you believe it is in.

By the way it is far from whipped for a 200 years old main carpet -- and its colors are day one fresh and beauteous – forget that fact it is an amazing piece of design work and Rare, rare, rare.

Too bad we can't say the same for the Salor torba fragment, which had garish, ugly colors, and was nothing but a mediocre late example of a now almost ordinary form.

Author: Beau Ryan
email:
Wed, Jul 20th, 2005 01:22:59 PM

Thanks for the correction Jack. As for Phyrric victory dances: the Salor torba was something that I liked and bought. It has also since been sold and I made a profit. I would say the plane didn't crash after all. What is something worth??? It's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Or in the case of auction, what two people are willing to pay for it at the same time. While I respect the fact that you, in your career, have seen and handled many things that are better and may have been less expensive than what comes to the market now, that has nothing to do with what things sell for today. Your purchase of the Kurdish rug is a perfect example. I believe you paid around $1000 with the premium for that piece. Who thought it was worth that? Only you, because you bought it. I thought it was a very cool piece, although whipped and I didn't pursue it because I didn't think I could advance it.

Author: jc
email:
Wed, Jul 20th, 2005 11:59:33 AM

We stand corrected and apologize for the error.

Regardless of who bought it, RK's opinion of the "astuteness" of that move remains unchanged.

However, Mr Ryan, your purchase of the Salor torba was not nearly as clever. So unless you sold the Shah Sevan mat for far more than it was worth you still have a huge hole in your wallet to deal with.

Cochineal silk and asymmetric knots open right do not make it anything but a sorely overpriced knick-knack.

So to use a favorite metaphor of ours your imagined Pyrrhic victory in announcing your "astuteness" can only be likened to the pilot who walks away without a scratch from a crash-landing that destroys the plane and all it's passengers but proudly states: "It's really not so bad."

Enjoy Bo-Bo but might we suggest the next time you’re contemplating purchasing any genuinely old rugs you seek the advice of an expert? Don't forget we do offer ours and while our expertise does not come cheaply, it is far less costly than paying $12,500 plus premiums for a piece that is worth no more than $5-6000.00.

Author: Beau Ryan
email:
Tue, Jul 19th, 2005 08:10:48 AM

Jack, just to set the record straight. I'm glad that the purchaser of the Shasavan bagface was "astute" in your opinion, because it was not a New York dealer, but ME. I bought it, have sold it, and did do well, thank you. If you don't believe this, I'm happy to provide you with my bill from Kaminski's.

Author: jc
email:
Mon, Jul 18th, 2005 12:33:07 PM

The following five photos and commentary comprise the last installment of our Bradley sale coverage. The first four were what we considered to be the least interesting of the offerings we chose for review and the fifth, the Kurdish palmette rug, was one of the two pieces we purchased.

The first, a Kazak/Karabagh prayer rug, was not too old, probably circa 1870-1880, but it had all natural dyes and an unusual design.

The field reminded us of some western Anatolian Bergama area pieces, particularly the large central lozenge (that has a Turkish funerary stele look about it) and its pair of smaller flanking ones. The weave of rugs made in these areas of the Caucasus is typically coarse and this piece followed suit.

We liked the open drawing of calyx and leaf main border, the simple tertiary barber-pole guard stripes and single blue and red serrated tooth guard border, as well as the uncluttered work in the spandrel above the mirhab.

The next lot was also rather atypical, as we don’t remember ever seeing a photo of a Melas with a similar design.

This one had nice fine weave and again an all natural dye palette. While the design was not particularly dynamic, nor were the colors those which light up the eyes of collectors, this small Melas rug had its charms and was, perhaps, one of the best buys in the sale and it sold rather reasonably.

Speaking of unusual the next piece, a small square mat, had an attribution that stumped everyone we spoke to except for one astute NY City dealer who purchased it on the phone against the room. He was the only person who knew, like we did, this was Shah Sevan work.

The pastel coloration and extremely high pile were atypical for Shah Sevan work – as strange as it might sound we believe it was made in Western Turkey from the wool quality -- but that’s exactly the provenance this piece carries. The rich purple, glowing green and blues were its high points, as the spirited but derivative Dragon rug palmette field design did not really have much to offer. Again we liked it for what it was and believe the purchaser will do quite well with it.

The large format rendition, with its open drawing style of the well known vase Kuba design, works quite well here

However, we could not see dating this piece any earlier than the later part of the 1860’s and for that reason we begged off being interested in purchasing it. That said, it was in good condition and, while the coloration was not nearly as outstanding as some of the pieces it shares this design with, it was still quite a decent buy.

We found the charms of this Kurdish palmette rug too strong to resist and took it home with us.

It appears to date from the at least the early 19th century and, frankly, we would not be surprised if it was circa 1800 or even older. While basically complete about a third of the field was well worn down to the knot collars, however, the glowing rich coloration and wonderfully articulated design were enough to make ours, and any other knowledgeable viewer’s, eyes light up with that special reaction only great rugs engender.

Compared to the great sales of the pre-1990 decades RK has attended, the Bradley sale was not really anything to write an express mail letter home about but considering those which have come post- 1990, it surely deserved one. Not only were there more than 60 pieces that were previously never offered for sale but among these were some unusual and excellent mid-19th century ones. RK felt the Kurdish palmette rug and the other piece we bought, but have decided not to illustrate at this time, were the only pieces in the sale that predate the mid-19th.

Age surely isn’t everything, nor does it mean every really old rug is a great one but one thing is sure, the number of great rugs made prior to 1800 is exponentially higher than those made afterwards. This is undeniably true for village and clan-group weavings while among those made in larger towns and cities, as well as royal ateliers, post-1800 there is a far larger percentage that are worthy of praise and admiration.

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