How to Shop for Antique Rugs
Shopping for antique rugs can be a uniquely interesting and educational experience, especially if you are in the company of centuries-old masterpieces. If you are lucky enough to run across these beauties at your local antique store or estate sale, then it’s likely you will have the opportunity to discuss with the employees what makes an antique rug – well, antique.
But what if you find yourself browsing antiques online or at a yard sale? Chances are, you won’t find a professional to answer questions or offer insight on the spot.
Before you click the “buy” button or throw down some serious cash, here are a few pointers on how to shop for antique rugs and spot the real deals.
Identify the Type of Antique Rug
Rugs have been made all over the world for centuries, but each region has its own identifying characteristics.
Persian or Oriental rugs, for example, tend to feature design motifs like paisley, central medallions, or rosettes. They are symmetrical and consistent in design and may feature a border. Colors are a bit more pronounced than those of European origin. The edges of antique Persian or Oriental rugs may be bound or fringed, and the pile may be high or flat-weave.
In contrast, European antique rugs are more muted in color, commonly featuring soft shades of green, gold, or rose. The designs are asymmetrical, and floral or garland designs are quite common. Pile or flat-weave construction is possible with European rugs.
Antique American rugs share some characteristics but vary in other ways. For example, Native American and Art Deco rugs both favor geometric shapes. However, those of Native American origin may feature more black, brown, ivory or red tones than the Art Deco versions. Braided and hooked rugs may hail from American folk traditions.
Finally, rugs from Scandinavian countries commonly feature asymmetrical and geometric designs in almost any color. These antique types of rugs favor simple lines over motifs or elements.
Find Age Spots
It may be difficult to determine the exact age of an antique rug, especially if you are not at an antique store. Fortunately, there are some clues that can help.
First, look at the colors of the rug. If they seem uniformly faded, then it may be rather dated. Bright synthetic rug dyes were unavailable until the 1920s, so brighter hues may mean a newer piece.
Next, try to find a date on the rug. Some Oriental and Persian rugs feature Arabic numerals woven into the border.
Finally, if you still have questions about a rug that claims to be “antique”, you can try to consult your nearest antique store or estate sale showroom. These businesses usually have staff who can answer basic questions about antique rugs or guide you to other sources that can help.