With mellow colour tones, unique designs, beautiful patina and great construction, it's no wonder why good vintage rugs are so sought after. At Persian Rug Co, we love vintage rugs and have put together 10 tips to help you choose the right one. Be aware that most vintage rugs are not perfect. It’s often the little faults and colour variations that enhance their character.
1. Firstly, check the back of the rug
Often repairs are not obvious when looking at the front of the rug. One easy way of checking for repairs is to flip the rug over and look at the back. A few minor repairs are acceptable, however large repairs or big patches detract from the rug's true worth. Vintage rugs with big repairs should be avoided.
2. Now, examine the front of the rug
Examine the pile (the rug fibres) and look for signs of uneven wear. Ideally the rug should have even wear across the entire field of the rug with no obvious patches.
3. Make sure the rug has pattina
Just like fine antiques, over the years some vintage rugs develop a patina. If the wool of the vintage rug is fatty (has a high lanolin content), with use over the decades, the vintage rug will develop a lovely pattina. The result is a lovely sheen and sometimes a silky appearance.
4. Check the ends of the rug
One of the first places a rug wears out is the ends of the rug. When the fringes unravel, this is not a major problem because they can often be rebound. If the ends of the rug have been neglected then some dealers, in trying to repair the rug, unravel the ends and refringe the whole rug. This is known a cutting back the rug. Buying a rug that has been cut back is not a good move.
5. Check out the colours
The colours used in vintage rugs make them very attractive indeed. Natural dyes are often used, making vintage rugs desirable and unique. They mellow beautifully with time and this process cannot be reproduced in new rugs. The colours should be good in quality across the rug. If the rug has obvious areas of fading it should be avoided.
6. Listen to the rug
Fold the rug and then bend it. If a crackling sound is heard, this means that the foundation (warp and weft) is damaged. Perhaps the rug has sustained water damage in the past. This is not a good sign.
7. Make sure the rug sits flat
Many vintage rugs are woven on wool. In time, especially if they have been wet or not washed properly, the rug may develop ripples. These are permanent. Rugs that have ripples and do not sit flat are not worth buying.
8. Make sure the rug has not been artificially aged
There are many ways in which some overseas rug merchants age rugs. The pile of the rug is sometimes treated with harsh chemicals to tone the colour down. If you separate the pile and the roots are very dark, then you can conclude the rug has been chemically treated. These rugs have no inherent value and should be avoided.
9. Accept some imperfections
Most vintage rugs will have some imperfections. A small stain, a few repairs or some loose threads to name some examples. Minor imperfections are ok and they will be more than made up for by the joy your vintage rug will bring you.
10. Buy from an experienced and reputable dealer
At Persian Rug Co, we know vintage rugs. Our scouts in Iran and Afghanistan are always on the lookout for unique vintage rugs. They are not easy to come by. Prior to importation, our vintage rugs are vetted carefully. Before they are displayed in our store, we make sure they are washed and minor restoration occurs including rebounding the fringes. View our collection of vintage rugs here.
Want to know more?
Feel free to shoot us an email at email@example.com, come and visit us at our revamped Rozelle warehouse or call us on 9746 3600. We are here to help.