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Oriental rugs in demand – Claremont
Oct '11
Jan David Winitz, president/founder of Claremont Rug Company, said that certain types of antique Oriental rugs are experiencing a significant upsurge in attention among collectors and investors.

Globally-recognized as the world's leading dealer of art level 19th century carpets from the "Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving," Winitz says that inquiries for the "best of the best" pieces have become a staple of his interaction with clients.

"The rug world has evolved dramatically since we opened Claremont in 1980," he said. "Collectible antique rugs which were available then were often treated almost as commodities by some dealers. From the beginning, we have been telling our clients that not only were the best of these rugs severely undervalued, but that there was also a much smaller supply than people thought."

He also noted that the recent trend of acquiring antique Persian rugs for use as wall art and to place under glass had influenced the market. Fully 60% of Claremont multi-rug transactions now include carpets being bought for display and private collections. The rugs are primarily from the 1800s. Winitz said, "This was the period when the masterful use of vegetal dyes yielded an extraordinarily wide range of exotic hues and when the carpet-centric village life supported the levels of skill and dedication required to produce the finest, most original rugs.

"Throughout the years, our counseling about which weaving groups and styles would become the most collectible has proven extremely accurate," he said. "For instance, during the 1980s, when 19th century Caucasian rugs were little more than an afterthought to the vast majority of dealers, I was stressing that the best of these rugs were among the most art-worthy and fascinating of all rugs. While others were hesitant because of their looser weaves and geometric lines. I was fascinated by their astonishing use of color and their asymmetric, archetypal designs, which were a precursor to much of modern Western abstract art.

"In the last several years, we have put significant energy and resources into seeking out art-level examples of rugs from the Caucasus Mountains through the network of long-time collectors and art aficionados that we buy from. Now, the situation has shifted to the point the demand far exceeds the supply for the finest pieces."

Among classical Persian rugs, Winitz cites the finest antique Persian Laver Kirmans, Hadji Jallili Tabriz and Ferahan Sarouks as the styles he predicted would take on the central position they are reaching today.

Claremont began establishing "waiting lists" for the rarest rugs three years ago and has continued the practice. When especially rare new acquisitions arrive, Winitz first offers them to clients on the wait lists. "When we release highly collectible pieces," said Winitz, the author of The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug, "we immediately receive inquiries from potential buyers who view them electronically over the Internet or in emails. Significantly more than 50% of sales are now conducted without our client ever visiting the Gallery."

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