The latest issue of “carpet collector” magazine is out and RK can’t help but once more express our belief that “less is more” but concerning this magazine all we can say is better off without it than having it around.
The level of reportage is pathetically amateurish and worse almost universally say nothing.
The editor and his entire staff know nothing about antique/historic oriental rugs and this lack of knowledge and expertise is obvious on every page.
This magazine has been around for two years or so and while many – not RK – believe(d) it would improve we are sad to say it hasn’t. Not one iota.
Fault lies with tim steinert, the publisher and editor. Clearly steinert is someone who either thinks his readership is as clueless as he is or just so starved they will accept the juvenile worthless wordage, in both German and English, on the pages between “carpet collectors” glossy covers.
We were not ever going to mention this but we have decided it is pertinent – About a year and a half ago we offered steinert our services to bring some expertise and knowledge-base to his efforts.
Of course we told him this would not be for free and we would expect to get paid for our assistance. We also told him we wanted to do this clandestinely without any credit or acknowledgement.
We had several conversations with him but in the end he told us that while he agreed our help would be not only welcome but would give the magazine a far more expert level he had no money to pay us – so that was that on our part.
Frankly, we think tim steinert is a fool because only a moron tries to publish a magazine with no one on staff who possesses anything but an elemental and cursory understanding of the subject.
And honestly whatever we would ask as payment for our help would result in a far greater return than the outlay.
So several issues later “carpet collector” magazine continues to dispense page after page of worthless patter and we seriously wonder how many carpet collectors will pay to receive this quarterly kindergarten look-in at rugDUMB.
But you know there is another way to look at this.
Perhaps RK is wrong and steinert’s “carpet collector” magazine is the perfect companion for many who call themselves “carpet collectors.” For the past few years RK has noticed the level of collector scholarship has decreased, not increased.
And while many in rugDUMB talk the talk somewhat better than they did in former times, they are stymied and hamstrung when it come to walking the walk and proving they really know something.
And there is another factor: A number of the more intelligent collectors RK used to know have dropped out of the scene, and either have sold their collections or put them in the closet and shut the door tightly.
One thing is sure: the cadre of carpet collectors is shrinking not increasing.
This can only mean one thing – RugDumb is not able to sustain their interest, nor is it capable of bringing in new blood, both essential to make a market and a lively group of participants.
Witness the demise of acor and the icoc. They did not disappear for any other reason than incompetence. Need more proof?
As for carpet collector magazines latest issue?
Here are a few gems we culled from the 106 pages.
Page 3, Editorial
“Auctions, auctions, auctions! This spring the auction scene exploded into a virtual fireworks display of exciting sales. It seemed this way because the collector’s scene was bustling with discussions over price trends and results lists as veritable seismographs for market developments. Instead of a few record-breaking prices distorting the overall perception, the market actually appears to have entered calmer waters. We can now breath a sigh of relief after tentatively observing positive developments at more stable prices. Which pieces were responsible for this reassurance: fine Persian city rugs, tribal and village rugs, suzanis or perhaps even European tapestries? (auctions starting on page 24)”
This is laughable beside for the fact it is say nothing and completely wrong. RK has been around the rug scene for four plus decades, steinert and company for maybe four. So to steinert’s naïve eyes what appears to be a “virtual fireworks display” is, in reality, a candle in the wind.
Nothing has changed in the oriental rug collecting world this spring regardless of “carpet collector” magazine’s declaration.
Ok let’s turn to page 24.
Beginning with a sale at a backwater auction house in Denmark, Henrik Schleppegrel, where “72 carpet lots hit the auction block”. Calling the auction a “true success” when only 55 of the lots sold, that’s a 76%, is nothing but bad math and hype.
Plus the rugs on offer were boring turn of the century decorative Persian city pieces about as ho-hum unexciting as the rest of “carpet collector’s” report. Not a real collector piece in the bunch.
Moving along to the next sale “Carpet collector” declares: “The Nagel auction house in Stuttgart, Germany, can look back on a solid spring auction”
Really? RK has the pleasure of watching it live on the internet and besides lot 1, a quirky village rug made somewhere between central Anatolia and the southern Caucasus (a more precise provenance is impossible) which sold for 21,000 euro against a 1500 euro estimate, nothing else preformed admirably.
In fact we watched Uwe Jordan, who now is Nagel’s chief executive after long ago being their rug expert, look extremely uncomfortable with the lack luster bidding and his rushing through the sale in double-time.
At Nagel, too, there as barely anything interesting and exciting for true carpet collectors and the fact “carpet collector” magazine can’t realize that bodes poorly for its chances for success at doing anything but draining steinert’s allowance from his family’s bank book.
Then in the next article readers learn about Lawrence aka Larry Kearney’s appointment as the new Skinner auction house rug expert and the first sale under his tutelage.
Anyone who saw the catalog and did not think the 279 lots were anything but run of the mill mediocre collector pieces and dealer inventory culls would be as mistaken and lost in the sauce as “carpet collector” magazine’s statement “The auction featured plenty of nomad and village rugs”. Of course there were plenty of them but were they worthy of even a second look?
The next auction up for review was the Austria Auction Company second sale of 236 lots, which did both offer some excellent real collector pieces as well as achieving an admirable 80% sales figure. And at this auction there was no single lot, or a few lots which padded the total.
But anyone who does not know genuine pre-middle 19th century collector rugs from late 19th and early 20th century airport-art weavings might end up thinking, thanks to “carpet collector” magazine’s lukewarm report, this auction was no different than the preceding two. And to make matters worse saying “…the total proceeds were nevertheless considerably lower than in the first auction” is nothing but an unnecessary dig at Austria Auction Company’s success as well as its achieving a 760,000 euro sales total against an auction like Nagel which totaled a measly 310,000 euro.
Plus the level of goods on offer at Austria Auction Company eclipsed by light-years the catalogs of Nagel and Schleppegrel.
Calling the Christie London rug sale a “Sensation in London” is surely reasonable and one of the few times “carpet collector” magazine’s auction report got it right.
What they didn’t is stating “What is especially remarkable – and encouraging – is that no single top lot was responsible for driving up the results.
On the surface this is true but closer inspection proves it to be hog-wash.
The auction sold 4.6 million euro of rugs, most of which were Classical pieces far beyond the pocketbooks of the vast majority, if not all, of “carpet collector” magazine’s readers, and meaningless as a bit more than half that total was accrued by selling only 6 lots, and almost three quarters if you take the top dozen out of the total.
There is no doubt Christie London has become the premier place for selling “classical rugs” and high-end decorative ‘antique’ Persian ones. But, and it's a big but, they are surely not light-years, or even head and shoulders, above rippon-boswell or Austria Auction Company when it comes to selling authentic pre-middle 19th century Turkmen and Caucasian weavings.
These are collector rugs and ones a magazine like “carpet collector” should be concerned with, but because steinert and company know next to nothing about them the magazine is completely stymied when it come to understanding them, their market and what is happening in it.
For example Christie’s lot 90, the Tekke bird asmalyk, which “carpet collector” magazine describes as one “enthusiasts could admires (as) a beautiful (one)…” sold for a bargain basement 70,312 euro. However, had it really been worth admiration and truly beautiful it would have sold for 250,000 euro.
Adding a generous dollop of stupidity “carpet collector” magazine then says “Tekke asmalyks are much rarer than those of the Yomud.”
Duhhhh….earth to steinert: Time to get someone who is an expert to write your reports and articles or throw in the towel and go back to where you came from before trying to buy your way into RugDumb.
Rounding out the auction reports is a look at the February Dorotheum sale.
Again saying this auction was “…focused on collector rugs…” shows “carpet collector” magazine knows nothing about them, as there was not one single piece, out of the 185 in the catalog, any astute collector would admire or want to hotly pursue.
The best of the lots being number 24 a circa 1750 Kangsi carpet that was over-dated in the catalogue as late 17th. But rest assured “carpet collector” doesn’t know that.
RK can’t stomach or get-up the energy to critique to smithereens the rest of the naïve, misguided and valueless articles in this issue.
So we will close here with an observation and a question.
First the question: Why did tim steinert pick oriental rug collecting as a subject for a quarterly publication?
Carpet collecting is a very, very small pond and already floating therein is a magazine, that rag hali, which has been there for decades.
Also the demographics of antique carpet collecting clearly demonstrate a declining number of participants and an extremely unbalanced market-place. One where only ‘classical’ Safavid and Ottoman carpets and the best and earliest small-scale society examples -- Anatolian, Turkmen and Caucasian village/clan -- are in demand and selling on an upwards projection. All other types and genres are on a decidedly downwards one.
So where is the market for a new entry, particularly one without even the barest necessary expertise?
It doesn’t exist. Period. End of discussion.
So either steinert is a fool or a masochist.
We think both.