Home > Archive >Transylvanian Toss-up
Sat, Jul 24th, 2004 10:50:17 PM
Topic: Transylvanian Toss-up

Earlier this year this prayer rug of the so-called transylvanian type

was offered on Ebay by a Colorado rug dealer, Michael Phillips who has carved himself out a niche as one of the top, if not the top, seller of older rugs on that internet auction site.

Rarely do pre- 1880 pieces appear on Ebay and this mid-18th century rug caused somewhat of a stir and ended up selling for a bit more than $12,000. To describe it’s condition as a shipwreck is apt as, besides for being relatively complete, it had almost every imaginable flaw and problem a pile carpet could possibly exhibit.

In the latest issue of hali, which enjoys the dubious distinction of being the rug world’s only in-print mouthpiece, this sale was mentioned and to their credit they note this rug had already been had to recent trips to the auction floor – in 2003 at Christies New York (where it failed to meet the reserve, which presumably was $1,500) and in 1997 at sotheby’s London where it sold for 1,100 pounds.

With the typical imperious know-it-all élan hali’s reportage invariably exudes readers were told the 1,100 pound price was a “fair price”. RK.com asks fair for who – the buyer, the seller or both? In RK’s opinion it was for neither. The buyer, depending on one’s position, either got a bargain (after all these prayer rugs don’t grow on trees and this one in particular has excellent drawing and proportions) or, according to hali’s description, bought himself a “sad wreck”.

The seller, if one takes the former position, got screwed (after all 1,100 pounds barely buys a decent Belouch bagface nowadays) or, from the later viewpoints perspective, should rejoice in unloading the “sad wreck” for some wallet stuffing folding money.

But, as is oft times the case, hali deserves to be mocked for what they leave out of their stories as much as for what they put in them. RK.com wonders why they don’t start printing on yellow paper as they have truly earned their stripes as yellow journalists. Don’t forget, folks, hali’s omissions are no accidents, they serve a purpose.

In this instance hali doesn’t tell you the buyer, who they describe as a “private dealer” (what does that oxymoron convey?) after receiving the piece refused to pay the vendor. By the way the buyer was none other than mr. webb hill from San Francisco, who is rumored to be equally well-known for exposing himself to minors in public parks and other more unmentionable perverted peccadilloes as for his rug collecting.

Why hali names the vendor and casts dispersions on him but allows webb to remain anonymous and unscathed can only be put down to their usual selfish self-serving modus operandi. You guessed right, dear readers, they must want something from webb whereas Phillips has little or nothing to offer.

By the way to his credit after webb reneged on the deal for no credible reason Phillips refrained from publicly outing webb. This is perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this story and RK.com salutes Michael Phillips for his most gentlemanly conduct.

As for mr webb hill RK.com suggests the rug world give him the cold shoulder or better yet do what we have heard some burly object of his misplaced affection did and give him another stomping he so rightly deserves.

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