Originally designed to be rolled up and carried in the saddlebags of ancient nomadic tribes in the Caucasus and similar regions, as of 2010 oriental and Indian rugs sit well in a variety of homes, from period dwellings to modern flats. For this reason there is plenty of demand for good examples, so you should have no trouble selling your own rugs either in auction or directly to a dealer.
- Skill level:
Gather up any receipts or documentation from the original purchase of the rug or any other provenance. For instance, if it is a family heirloom, perhaps you have an old photograph of the rug which will illustrate its age. This kind of background information will be very useful in reassuring a dealer that your rug is what it seems.
Type "oriental rugs" and the name of your region into your computer's search engine to locate rug dealers in your area. Alternatively, go to the Persian Carpet Guide website for a useful database of stores (see Resources). Make preliminary investigations by phone. Some dealers may specialise in rugs from one area only, while others may only buy from select suppliers. Arrange to bring your rug into the store, or alternatively, invite the dealer to your home to view it in situ. It's worth going to all of this trouble because specialist dealers will pay good money for the right product.
Try general antiques stores, or even interior design stores, if there are no rug dealers in your area. Both kinds of store will probably stock a few rugs, but without expertise in the field, the dealers probably won't feel comfortable offering any more than a knock-down price.
Take your rug to auction if the thought of striking a face-to-face deal doesn't appeal. Most general sales will have a section devoted to rugs. Advantages are that the auctioneer will use his expertise to write a description of the rug in the sale catalogue, while dealers will have to compete against each other, potentially driving up the price. The downside is that you must pay a seller's fee that can be as much as 20 per cent of the final hammer price, plus you will have to wait two or three weeks for your check to come through.
Consider selling oriental and Indian rugs through an online auction site if you are confident that you can write an accurate description; remember, you will be held legally responsible for your choice of words. Unfortunately, rugs aren't ideal items for selling online because of their size. To avoid getting embroiled in posting and packing, you can specify when listing your lot that the eventual purchaser will have to come and collect the rug himself.
Tips and warnings
- Auctioneers such as Bonhams run specialist sales of oriental and Indian rugs, but these are few and far between and for the finest examples only. You'll find a list of specialist auction houses on the Persian Carpet Guide website.
- Don't start dragging your rug around to local antiques stores unannounced, because it will put you at a disadvantage during negotiations, as the dealer will know you won't be eager to load the rug back into your car and drive off to another store.
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