Updated: Dec 12, 2022
Not long ago, the bottom dropped out of the antique rug market; antique rugs that sold for twenty thousand became three to five thousand dollar rugs, even at these new prices, hard-to-sell rugs in the marketplace.
Let's explore why. The baby boomer generation (1946-1964) was a large rug-buying demographic as these boomers began downsizing in the early 2000s, and many unloaded their antique and vintage rugs into the marketplace.
Around the same time, producers in the rug market began aligning with Industry groups like CMG (color marketing group) and Pantone, who release seasonal color forecasts & design trends for industry partners in clothing, housewares, and home furnishings manufacturers.
By choreographing their efforts and syncing color and designs, consumer product makers, and increasingly rug makers, could sell goods more effectively.
Combined with the internet, rug design software, and the ability to communicate with the weaving floors in India and Nepal, rug retailer and their clients had instant access to producers. Synching with other consumer goods and seasonal and yearly color trends, the rug market became more in tune with changes in decorative trends.
Interior designers and consumers didn't have to settle for a rug; they could have one custom-made in the size and colors they want. This left less room for vintage and antique rugs in new and remodeled homes with the newest colors and designs.
The rise in popularity of hand-tufted rugs meets much quicker production times and lower price points for consumers, consciously or unconsciously, to toss their rugs every few years for something trendy and new.
There is a growing consumer backlash and an increasing interest in vintage rugs. Some have tired of the endless color and design trend wagon and cooperate push for new color trends and designs four times a year, and rightly so. A quality rug can last decades and even centuries means the idea of buying a forever rug meshes with modern environmentalism.
Nothing is more sound than buying a rug that lasts a lifetime. Here are our top tips for being a savvy rug buyer in today's marketplace.
Are antique rugs expensive?
They used to be expensive; as shown below, some antique rugs are very affordable. Many antique and vintage rug values have dropped in recent years due to changes in demographics, design, and color tastes. The image below illustrates this perfectly. A 10x12 1920's Persian Sarouk with some low area but overall a decent condition 15 years ago this was an 8-10k now 1,200.
Are antique rugs a good investment?
I don't believe in viewing rugs as an investment, new or antique. I would have been sure the Sarouk above would be with much more today than 25 years ago, I was wrong. The world isn't making any more antique rugs; every year, there are fewer antique rugs. Their numbers are chipped away by time and wear from use, fire, mold, mildew, family pet, and wool moths, the stuff of life.
Are antique carpets coming back in Style?
Recently, vintage and antique rugs' values have increased some, and we are seeing more young people bucking the consortium design and color trend and buying vintage and antique rugs. There isn't a more environmentally friendly more than buying a100 year old rug to throw on your floor, and most of these vintage and antique rugs are still around because they are made well, better than many new rugs.
Some rugs never went away and bucked the trend; the example below is a tribal Turkoman Ersari bag called a Chuval 2' 4" x 4'2" that recently sold for 3,600.00. Factoring in the buyer premium, the total cost is about 4,400.00. Many such weavings have increased in value over the past decade.
Why are antiques valuable?
The Ersari Chuval above was woven over 140 years ago as a utilitarian bag to hold items by a nomadic Turkoman group in central Asia. These nomadic tribal groups don't really exist anymore and don't weave these utilitarian items; this is a lost cultural art form. This is ethnographic art; treasure its cultural history.
Time before the invention of plastic bags, this was how people carried their belongings, with class and style. Think of this somewhere between a painting and a sculpture. These were made to be used but also a savings account or banked labor to be traded in hard times but not specifically made to sell. The people that collect these do so for what they are not to match their new sofa or color wallpaper in their home. It's a privilege to have in your possies to be a caretaker for a time of such a rare and beautiful thing.
Such items conjure questions and drive people to seek out a much deeper understanding of the cultures that woven them.
Where to buy antique rugs in Portland, Oregon
As the market for antique rugs has changed, there are a few sources for vintage and antique rugs Christiane Millinger and Tufenkian carry small sections of good-quality antique rugs in the Portland metro area.