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Increasing Interest in Rare, 19th Century Oriental Carpets Continues Unabated Among Art Collectors
Extremely rare Bakshaish Camelhair Tree of Life, 6ft 6in x 9ft 3in, early 19th century.
OAKLAND, CA.- On February 7, Jan David Winitz, founder and president of Claremont Rug Company, cited three major developments in the market for 19th century, art-level Oriental rugs as indicative of collectors’ rising interest in this emerging niche of the art world.

“We may well be at the beginning of a decade-long emergence of the antique rug market as an important force in the collection world,” he said.

Winitz pointed to three major results-based observations:

• The steady increase in inquiries via the Internet about “best of the best” rugs
• The continued impact of multiple-rug purchases for private collections or “whole home projects” and
• The re-emergence of collectors who had put acquisitions on hold for the past two years.

“We recently reported that, despite the global recession, 2010 was among the best in our 30 years in business,” he said. “We capped of the year with the best December sales in our history.”

According to a recent report by Marion Maneker of ArtNewsMonitor, “One remarkable aspect of Winitz’s business is the number of clients who ask him to assemble large whole-home collections at one time.”

Winitz said indications at the beginning of 2011 suggested that the enthusiasm in whole home projects is still on the increase. “A number of clients who had put plans on hold since 2008 have come to us ready to re-engage their whole home projects, which generally involve 15 to as many as 70 carpets each.” Rugs at the Gallery are valued from $20,000 to more than $500,000.

The number of whole home projects undertaken by Claremont has increased from eight in 2008 to 50 in 2010. Winitz said he had already been engaged for six projects in January of 2011.

“Art collectors and rug connoisseurs understand that the finest rugs from the 19th century, the Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving, are rapidly disappearing into private collections,” he said. “My clients recognize that rugs of this distinction are still dramatically undervalued relative to other forms of art, such as paintings, sculpture and furniture, which they collect.”

From conversations with clients and from the inquiries to his Gallery, Winitz said he has seen a growing recognition among collectors of the emotional impact and unifying atmosphere that great rugs added to their residences. The combination of great artistry, increasing value and the impossibility of recreating these pieces is a powerful attraction.

“I believe that a love of beauty in inherent in all of us. Thus, rugs become a passion, particularly among collectors who are also executives or entrepreneurs with demanding lifestyles. My clients repeatedly tell me that their rugs both inspire and relax them. They help them to slow down and be more contemplative.”

In a recent interview, Winitz told the San Francisco Chronicle that his client base was increasingly global, with sales to customers from areas as diverse as Singapore, the West Indies, New Zealand and Sweden.

The author of “The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug,” Winitz also said the Internet had emerged as a major aspect of the market. “More than half our individual sales now involve the Internet and our website,” he said. “Also, clients contact us at the first hint that we may have acquired a new collection. They simply don’t want to be shut out when important rugs come to market.”

The San Francisco Chronicle article also reported that “While the value of such assets is difficult to track because they are often unique and usually sold privately, art market indexes suggest that when stocks are down, prices of things like antique carpets, old coins, art and other collectibles commonly go up.”

ArtNewsMonitor suggested that “19th Century rugs…have become increasingly popular, especially among finance professionals and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.”

Says Winitz, “Our clients tell us that the carpets provide them with the most precious commodity of all, time. While they live in a world of quick decisions, fast travel and instant information,” he said “antique rugs bring balance, harmony and the reminder to slow down and enjoy the beauty in front of them.”

Artistic merit, diminishing supply, global interest and the Internet: all indications that 2010 may turn out to have been both the Year of the Rug and the start of the Decade of the Rug.





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