Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >boswell's March Mediocrity
Author:jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Thu, Mar 15th, 2007 10:03:00 PM
Topic: boswell's March Mediocrity

We can honestly as ever say: rippon-boswell’s 78th March 10th 2007 auction is the worst group of rugs they have yet to assemble for sale.

Such a statement doesn’t come lightly as RK has known boswell, aka detlef maltzhan, since he first began to work for the firm decades ago.

Way back then, he was the cataloguer and only later on did he and his female partner become the owners.

Over the years the boswells have, at times, sold some outstanding pieces for outstanding prices.

They have far more often and like most other auction houses, at least in our sterling opinion, sold far less notable ones for just as outstanding prices. Bully for them and the client’s who have gotten those outstanding rugs and flatweaves. Emptor caveat to all those other clients who have taken home goods that we’d categorize as being in that later group.

Regardless of past triumphs or disasters this, their 78th sale, if one is to believe boswell’s publicity, contains no stars or masterpieces of historic weaving. In fact, there is not one lot of interest and the sale is, in our estimation, nothing more than a whale of a belly-flop.

Clearly, maltzhan has tried to make up for the lack of quality with quantity and their catalog bulges, its pages illustrating one mediocrity after another.

Yeesshhh, we couldn’t find a piece to discuss, let alone one we’d muse about purchasing, among the 304 lots.

The only semi-interesting one is this Yomud chuval, lot 248:

RK has often poked fun and criticized boswell’s fanciful catalog descriptions and provenances. This lot, which he has deemed “ende 19th” appears to present another opportunity for maltzhan to err.

That is unless there is the presence of synthetic dye, something the catalog photo hints at but doesn’t prove.

Actually we’d be surprised if that is the case here but we do recognize it’s a possibility.

In any event, the drawing of the gols and border elements is quite good and these factors, plus the unusual light blue minor gols and excellent overall proportions lead us to believe maltzhan’s age guesstimate is wrong.

But, even if he is right and we are wrong because there is synthetic dye in the chuval, our describing this sale as a pant-full of mediocre, uninteresting rugs and flatweaves surely isn’t.

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Thu, Mar 15th, 2007 03:46:36 PM

Let's call a spade a spade here and, unlike the ever happy-talkers at over at hali, put the boswell's March sale into proper perspective.

RK has neither the time nor the desire to discuss the boswell's marvelous internet marketing, as it was so-called by whoever wrote the hali review, or the fact cherry-trees are bloomin' many weeks in advance, regardless of the doom-sayers who believe in the urgency of the allegedly brewing global warming disaster.

Fact is, rugfans, there are a number of other far more significant and threatening disasters facing humanity.

How about the thousands of tons of depleted uranium dropped in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and soon to be in Iran? Or the coming generational war our leaders are flapping their lips about? Or the loss of the civil/human rights our Constitution and Bill or Rights supposedly guarantee, just to enumerate a few.

Sorry, let's not get all political here and change the subject but get on back to the hali air-head who penned the review that now appears on their website.

In that “review” a number of lots were discussed but, quite frankly, we can’t seem to see why as almost all of them are barely collectible, forget about important or historic.

But, then again, hali is, and not only in RK's opinion mind you, nothing more than a mouth-piece and lame organ-grinder to those who pass off such goods and, believe it or not, pat themselves on the back for doing so as they bask in their BS belief they’re “art-dealers”.

Far from it and Ho Ho is all RK has to say about them and hali’s penchant to go along and to even fan the flames of their ruse.

There were, however, two pieces in the review we’d consider close to, but not actually, collectible -- well at least by our high standards.

The first was lot 26 a so-called ShahSevan salt-bag done in soumak technique. In their review, hali informs us
A more exciting lot was 26, a Shasavan sumakh salt bag (1) with a ‘Yuncu’ look, that strangely looked a great deal better in flesh than on photo. It was the object of a tight battle between two German dealers, reaching €3,360.”

By the way those 3,360 euro are equal today to 4,450 dollars.

As RK sees it, like it or not folks, the continuing progressive devaluation of our dollar is another of those looming disasters we believe trump the global warming one sell-outs, like al gore and company, would have us believe is the real issue of the day.

But RK digresses again - back to the boswell sale.

Some years ago we wrote about a soumak piece with somewhat similar “cutesy animals” sold to the mitch and rozely(aka rugmouth)rugnik collection of Boston, Massachuessettes. It was sold for about $15,000 by the former, now bankrupt and disgraced, rug selling power-house that herrmann ran before his self-induced fall from grace.

Here’s a photo for those who do not remember or are too lazy to go search it out in RugKazbah’s archive:

The complete post can still be found on our discussion board in the Flat-Weave Topic Area. It is titled “Cute Animals Dont A Great Soumak Make” and while that soumak bag is somewhat older than the boswell saltbag(and surely more valuable, even in our estimation) we like neither very much and remain in the opinion they are both great examples of early airport-art, with little or no connection to soumaks RK believes are historic, far more interesting and, yes, genuinely beautiful.

While we did not attend the bozwell sale in person, we had no trouble figuring out who the “two German dealers” battling to own this treasure could have been– michael aka I am mr belouch, right? craycraft and bertram aka petty thief frauenknecht.

Clearly, RK holds little personal regard for either of them (and we have the facts to back our position up), nor do we believe either of them knows enough to realize truly how uninteresting and contrived a piece like lot 26 really is.

Likewise, RK doesn’t think bozwell is any better but at least he saw lot 26 as circa 1900. We might date it 20 years or so earlier but it is in no way a “period” piece.

Not to say boswell could not be wrong or even that our assessment could be, too, but honestly after researching and collecting soumak bags for more than three decades we are not so easily convinced fool’s gold is the real thing.

And fool’s-gold is the best way we could describe a soumak like lot 26, as well as the grossly overpriced one the rugniks bought from herrmann’s defunct shoppe.

As for the amateur rug expert who wrote hali’s review? RK would just like to inform him/her only someone with little to no understanding old and historic soumak bags could have written the piece “strangely looked a great deal better in flesh than on photo”.

We’d counter with the probability neither their before or after opinion holds any water and, no matter whether hali’s reviewer was face to face with the bag or not, any opinion would be worthless.

Same goes for lot 187, the Tekke engsi hali also chose to comment about:
.

Readers were informed it, too, was the object of a bidding battle between two bidders:
“After an intense fight with a collector calling from the US, it finally sold for €4,080 to a Milanese dealer who had a deserving smile afterwards.”

RK could probably pin-the-tail on those two as well but, because we like to keep some info to ourselves, we will let our more curious readers do their own gum-shoe investigating.

Here, just like with the soumak, two easily influenced and not very astute bidders decided to scale the heights to own less than important pieces. Such “battles” don’t mean a whole hill of beans, nor do the prices they reached validate the illusion such rugs are important or historic.

The Tekke ensi was, like the grogan piece we continue to discuss, a later example with little or no real connection to history. We’d feel right on in calling it early airport-art, too. We liked it not and were it not for the fact RugKazbah.com’s mission is to raise awareness for historic Near Eastern masterpiece weavings, and not to educate our competition, we would be discussing all the reasons why we have taken such a position.

That said, we will gladly state the weaver’s inability to create anything other than a rather static, two-dimensional work(none of the iconography approaches that important third dimension all great Turkmen rugs demonstrate), plus the lack of an potent icons(all the drawing strikes us as highly repetitive, reflective, unoriginal and boring) support our opinion.

The rug is, what we have often referred to in the past, a pastiche – it lacks any genuine magic and is, in our final analysis, nothing more than a piece of decorative art, just like the grogan ensi.

Let us also point out two other factors supporting our opinion:
1.the compressed articulation of the regular design found in the horizontal cross bar between the four quadrants in the field.
2. the crude and somewhat equally as compressed drawing in the lower elem.

Trust us on this one, if nothing else -- both of these drawbacks would surely not be found in any really historic ensi

By the way when making use of this elem design that RK calls the spinning flower icon or amulet, the weavers of all great Tekke ensi were able to do just that – make the flowers spin.

Here the weaver was barely able to delineate them, forget about adding any spin.

Well, that said, there was all that typical hali-spin all over this review -- and maybe that’s what confused the reviewer into thinking something was actually spinning because this ensi of bozwell’s surely wasn’t.

Home   Buy/Sell at the Kazbah   Terms Of Service