I have had an interest in antique rugs for some time, but I can’t clearly explain why. When I go to the office of a professional businessperson, I notice that antique rugs are prominently displayed. Or, when I watch, “Billions,” I see some character has one in their home. Antique rugs are status symbols and works of art to invest in. Are antique rugs a good investment?
I learned that they are only as valuable as the next collector decides, are status symbols that are supposed to show off historical and geopolitical knowledge, and are usually lifetime purchases. Whether or not they are good investments depend on what you want to get out of them.
What Qualifies As An Antique Rug?
Antique rugs are artisanal woven carpets. The geography, history, and cultural norms of an ethnicity or race of the people who wove it can be identified, by the trained eye, through inspecting the carpet. Specifically, by examining the weaving techniques, type of dyes used, and the artistic patterns and symbols appearing on the rug. The “Orient” is an outdated term referring to countries in East and Southeast Asia in relation to trading routes with Europe.
So, “oriental rug,” antique rug,” or, “precious carpet,” are all interchangeable terms. Persia is the former, ancient name for Iran. Persia is a part of the Orient. Authentic, antique rugs from the Orient can be from Persia, Turkey, Morocco, Afghanistan, Belorussia, and so on. How much you pay for an antique rug is determined on a variety of factors.
The region the rug is from, the craftwork involved in making it, and its age. A collectible rug is about 30 years old. However, an antique rug is at least 80 years old. The world’s oldest known antique rug is the Pazyryk Rug. It was found in Siberia, Russia in 1949 and is at least 2,500 years old.
An antique rug is a status symbol. It’s a piece of art that you can walk on or hang on a wall, and, its an investment. Some people buy antique rugs to bequeath as heirlooms in inheritances because of their value. This isn’t a $100 area rug purchase at the local mall. How much you pay depends on where you buy them from. The average cost of an antique rug is $1,000 to $4,000. Some antique rugs cost millions or tens of millions of dollars.
The fabled Pazyryk Rug is literally priceless, as it was probably created in the 4th or 5th century. A 17th-century Persian carpet, known as The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, sold for almost $34 million at auction.
Antique vs. Counterfeit
Where you buy your antique rug determines its authenticity. You could travel to the former Orient and develop connections with local merchants and buy directly from the source. However, that means traveling to Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Morocco, and other places experiencing social instability, economic distress, and safety issues.
You can consult antique rug brokers, which is a real thing and not cheap.
Or, you can buy at auctions or estate sale liquidation auctions. However, you need to know what you’re buying.
Consider the Investment
Antique rugs are status symbols, conversation starters, and serious financial investment. You may not know a lot of people who want to talk about the artisanal carpentry techniques of the former Belorussia or Khorassan province of Persia. Antique rugs are hard to insure and may require their own, distinct insurance policy. They must be carefully vacuumed weekly and kept clean.
If you own more than one, they may end up owning you. If you are just going to buy one to walk on, or store away and forget, you might be better off investing that $1,000 to $4,000.