To say the Internet has revolutionized the way oriental rugs are bought and sold would be a rather modest understatement. Each day there are innumerable offerings of rugs online but most of them, in fact 99.9% in our estimation, have little or no genuine historic or “collector” importance.
Having said that we do know from personal experience there are times, though rare as those instances maybe, that significant pieces come to the market thru the digital world.
For instance, this month it seems a rather active “collector” from New York has been a busy beaver with his mouse in hand bidding on two pieces he obviously believed deserved his attention -- one of which he successfully purchased and the other not. We’d readily agree with his having become interested in these rugs but surely not with the way he ended up expressing that interest.
We did not learn of these offerings before the fact but, in all honestly, it would not have made any difference had we.
Well, frankly, while we can appreciate the fact both are head and shoulders above the usual ilk of supposed “collector rugs” that enter the virtual marketplace each week, neither one of these was important enough, historic or that beautiful to get us to raise our virtual paddle.
Unlike mark, aka mr. feldmo, feldman, who is the collector in question, RK doesn’t get excited easily, nor do we eagerly rush to bid on just anything that’s better than the norm.
The first of the pieces, a Yomud asymalk:
appeared at a sale in Philadelphia, Pa. that listed their goods online as well. Seems mr feldmo liked it to the tune of $1400, a price we feel was rather niggardly. While we would not class it as an important find, the rare design used for the field is more than just interesting and is definitely worthy of attention.
A number of bidders agreed and feldmo’s $1400 price was quickly trounced and the asmalyk ended up bringing $12,000.oo plus premiums from a bidder who was actually in the salesroom.
Had this asmalyk been any older than mid-19th century (a date that you can trust is accurate) its purchase at that price level, or even a higher one, would have to be considered an astute one and a coup. But since it was, in our opinion, not any older than circa 1850 at best we’d have to state its purchase at somewhat more than $13,000.oo was a bit too much – actually big bit as far as we are concerned.
The second piece, a Senneh prayer kelim:
didn’t escape mr. feldmo’s butterfly net and he “got it” for $7500.oo. It appeared at an auction gallery in Oak Park, Illinois that also listed its wares online.
Again, we have to agree with feldmo’s desire to own it but because it isn’t a best of type or a truly “great” example in our eyes – the famous one formerly owned by Arthur D. Jenkins that is now in the Textile Museum’s collection sets the benchmark for all Senneh prayer kelims, we don’t feel feldman’s purchase was anything more than just an OK one.
But one thing is sure, it demonstrates a far better level of rug collecting savvy than bidding a measly $1400.oo for an asmalyk that we find to be, on all levels, not much less interesting or significant. And while his purchasing the Senneh kelim for $7500.oo+ premium was more astute than having ended up with the asmalyk for $12,000.oo+ premium, it does show feldmo’s alleged reputation as a rug savant is, in our estimate, mostly hype and a reflection of the reputation he has gotten for his sometimes high profile buys at public auctions.
We can make such an assessment with ample assurance as, over the past 15 years or so, RK has had a number of run ins of all types with mr feldmo and therefore what we say is not at all without reason, nor were we at all surprised by his moves.
There are a number of other “collectors” we know who, like mr. feldmo, have enough greenbacks in their wallets to buy whatever they want but, also like him, invariably throw their money at pieces without really understanding what they should be paying, as feldman's recent interent foray well proves.