Early Rugs and Period Home Interior Decor

Early Rugs and Period Home Decor

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Early Antique Rugs in Period Home Interiors - One of the great divides in the antique rug world is the distinction between newer rugs and those that can be termed antique. This is a distinction that has the ability to affect different aspects that involve artistic and technical quality, rarity, and, of course, price.

New modern rugs are not simply those that arrive in the market direct from a manufacturer without ever having been used. This is because many rug dealers also refer to those with an age of thirty years or less as "new rugs". Antique rugs are those at least eighty years old, while older and semi-antique rugs fill the gap between the new and antique. But these other categories are of little import; it is the fully antique label that really matters.

Antique rugs have hand spun wool, their colors are made with all or primarily vegetable derived carpet dyes, and they are produced with designs rooted authentically in traditions hundreds of years old.

Unlike new rugs, there is a finite number of rugs made before 1920. This number will shrink, but it can never increase. Antique rugs not only have quality, but rarity as well. This fact tends to increase their value with the passing of time.

Early Rugs Depiction of the enthroned Madonna with a 'Ghirlandaio carpet' beneath her feet, Domenico Ghirlandaio, mid 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence (from V. Gantzhorn, Oriental Carpets, ill. 482).
Early Rugs Depiction of the enthroned Madonna with a 'Ghirlandaio carpet' beneath her feet, Domenico Ghirlandaio, mid 15th century, Uffizi Gallery, Florence (from V. Gantzhorn, Oriental Carpets, ill. 482).

But there is another divide of this sort, although it is not as well known. This is the divide between rugs designated as antique and those known as "Early rugs". This early rugs labeling affects the rugs and carpets that were produced before 1800. Given the essential fragility of woven art, rugs of this age, that are in anything approaching good condition, are far rarer than nineteenth century rugs and early twentieth centuries.

This makes early rugs in good condition even more expensive than nineteenth century pieces. In addition, their rarity has also made early rugs somewhat unfamiliar to the larger rug buying public. Instead, early rugs and textiles of this kind have so far been primarily of interest to specialists and collectors.

This is unfortunate, since many early pieces are carpets of a substantial size, which, if in sufficiently good condition, make excellent decorative rugs. For those who can appreciate the particular beauty and superior artistry of early rugs, they remain a largely untapped resource for high quality interior décor.

Early Rugs Depiction of a 'Memling Gul' rug in a still-life with a flower vase by Hans Memling, before 1494 (from V. Gantzhorn,Oriental Carpets, ill. 448).Early Rugs Depiction of a 'Memling Gul' rug in a still-life with a flower vase by Hans Memling, before 1494 (from V. Gantzhorn,Oriental Carpets, ill. 448).
Early Rugs Depiction of a 'Memling Gul' rug in a still-life with a flower vase by Hans Memling, before 1494 (from V. Gantzhorn,Oriental Carpets, ill. 448).

Early rugs and textiles are certainly not the esoteric "collector items" that they are so often taken to be. They were originally produced as decorative period interior furnishings at an elite level of patronage. There is no reason, therefore, that they should not be able to function in this way today, so long as they are sufficiently well preserved and treated with care.

They offer a superior degree of elegance and artistry that is a notch or two above most nineteenth century rugs. For those discerning enough to tell the difference and willing to pay for it, early rugs are a gateway to a lost era of grace and luxury and offer a touch of authenticity for those looking to recreate period decors.

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