Actually by now we had intended to have finished our previewing of the December sales but, unfortunately for our readership, we have been busy with a few end of the year affairs and time has not allowed us the opportunity to finish as we would have liked.
So rather than leave this topic unfinished, we decided this morning to take a look at three soumak bags up for grabs at grogans.
We did intend to widen this look at soumak bags on offer to include examples in the bozwell and sotheby sales as well but, once again, that old time clock was moving against our plan.
Perhaps the soumak bagface creating the biggest stir and hoopla is this one, lot 14:
We have heard gossip it was purchased on the internet for a very reasonable price and now we are sure it will sell for more, much more.
But is this bag really something to turn heads and send sweaty palms aloft in grogans warehouse saleroom on Dec. 10th?
RK has written extensively about soumak bagfaces and we will grant our opinions are not shared by some of the big wallets who collect these highly sought after rarities.
Honestly, just like one that graced the cover of rugdom’s long disgraced ex-star German dealer ebberhard hermann, RK finds that ex-hermann example, which is in the rugnik collection; this one at grogan, and a few others of this ilk to be nothing more than cutesy, later examples lacking the gutsy, mysterious and highly iconographic drawing examples we call archaic always demonstrate.
Pieces like lot 14 and the ex-hermann/rugnik one are, in our estimation, late, post mid-19th century and we’re not be afraid to hang the pastiche label on them.
The grogan example does not have the brilliant coloration of the ex-hermann piece but it does have the same type of derivative medallion articulation and all those cutesy, and meaningless as far as we can tell, animals.
Sorry fans but animals like these, when compared to ones we call archaic, miss the mark by long yardage.
But, regardless of the fact many in rugdom are impressed by these little critters, they leave RK cold as Santa's toes.
Estimated at 10,000-15,000 dollars, a price we think is way to high, we are nonetheless sure lot 14 will reach the low estimate, and we would not be, from what we have already heard, surprised to see it pass the high estimate, as well.
Again, RK knows amateur eyes will delight in the profusion of them cutesy critters and “open” medallion drawing.
However, better trained eyes can only see those animals as doo-dads rather than fearsome creatures, and that open medallion drawing as one the weaver did not fully understand enough to articulate properly.
We also picked out two other soumak bags to comment on.
The first, lot 29, also has somewhat similarly depicted critters but these have two heads.
They are also saddled with a rather stiff and boring two dimensionality and that results in their looking dead as doornails, well at least to our eyes that is.
The major border, this soumak’s most notable feature, has a chunky quality we find attractive but that feature is surely not strong enough to get this bag over the mid-second half of the 19th century look it exudes everywhere else.
By the way, we also believe grogan has over-dated lot 14 by calling it early 19th century – we’d make it mid-century. This is no doubt it is a better weaving than lot 29 but not the “treasure” mr grogan would like everyone to believe it is.
That said, of its type, lot 29 is a very good one, whereas lot 41 is not nearly as good of one for its type.
In fact there is nothing we like about lot 41:
It carries a very reasonable $2-$3,000 estimate, and while there are always horses for all courses, RK sees all three of these soumak bags as being nags of one sort or another regardless of the fact mr grogan, their owners and surely a number of prospective buyers think they, or at least lot 14, look like Kentucky Derby winners.