I have always been intimidated by antique rugs. With any other antiques, I always had the confidence that I had made a good purchase either to keep or sell again at a profit, but whenever I come across a rug at an estate sale or garage sale, I always call my sister for guidance. After getting her degree in textiles, she began to work for an Armenian rug dealer in Kansas City, Missouri, restoring antique Persian rugs and where she learned to identify rugs by region, vegetable dyes, etc. (even surviving a daylight armed robbery of the rug shop; a gun was pointed at the employees while stacks of antique rugs were swiftly removed and thrown into the back of a waiting van). To this day she is still asked to restore rugs, recreating the design exactly where there had once been a huge hole or a tear. When finished, you'd swear there had never been any damage.
So when this ca. 1880 Caucasian Shirvan came up for auction, I telephoned my sister and asked, "What do you think?" She just said, "Buy it." We both favor Caucasian rugs, and this one is in very good condition considering its age. However, Caucasians tend to come only with a lot of bold blue in the rug as a background color, which I didn't want, so the chocolate brown, cream and caramel colors, along with the ideal size, all convinced me this was the one. It is a perfect fit for under my dining table.
This little rug with a boteh design has always been a favorite of mine. I bought it almost 30 years ago at a garage sale in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $35. Even at that price, I was uncertain back then what to do; in the age of no cell phones I had to make my decision on the spot without any advice, but at $35 I felt I couldn't go wrong. At the same sale I bought a beautiful Kazak for $65 (now in the cedar chest because the colors don't work anywhere in my house). Shortly after I bought the rugs I sent them to Kansas City to have my sister's friend who had worked with her at the rug store appraise them for me. This one he appraised at $1,800. The $65 Kazak he valued at $10,000. It's a shame I have to keep it packed away.
When I look at this rug I always think of the wonderful estate sale I bought it at in Dayton, Ohio. The house was one of the most famous homes in Oakwood, a wealthy old Dayton suburb, and was built for Dorothy Kettering, the daughter of a powerful businessman at the turn of the century who worked and invented parts for automobiles along with the Wright Brothers. At the time of the estate sale the house had gone through many owners, and the sale was being held because of a divorce. The conductor of the sale was very flustered when the doors were opened the morning of the sale as the disgruntled wife had come the night before and taken A LOT of things with her that had been tagged for the sale. I can only imagine what all she carried off, as there was still a lot of beautiful antique furniture, crystal, porcelain and a whole library of leatherbound books left. The rug is one of the items I bought, along with a beautiful set of Royal Copenhagen china, among other things. I found from my sister's friend it is mid-century (1950s) Anatolian and falls in the semi-antique category that rugs are divided into. I have had it packed away for over 20 years and put it temporarily under the coffee table until I found the right rug -- but I've decided there is no other rug that could fit more perfectly, and I'm glad I've finally been able to put it to good use.
These pillows (and two others) were made from a badly damaged rug I found at a garage sale for $45.