Often repairs are not obvious when looking at the front of the rug. Flip the rug over and look at the back. A few minor repairs are acceptable, but large repairs or big patches detract from the rug’s true value. Avoid vintage rugs with big repairs.
2. Examine the front of the rug.
Examine the pile (the rug fibers) 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. Examine the rug’s patina.
Just like fine antiques, over the years some vintage rugs develop a patina. If the wool of the vintage rug has a high lanolin content, the vintage rug will develop a lovely patina over the years. 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 at either end. When the fringes unravel, a skilled dealer can often repair them. Some dealers, in trying to repair a rug, unravel the ends and fringe the whole rug. This is known as cutting back the rug. A rug that has been cut back has lost a significant part of its value.
5. Check out the colors.
The colors used in vintage rugs make them very attractive indeed. Many are made with natural dyes, making vintage rugs desirable and unique. The colors should be good in quality across the rug. Avoid rugs with obvious areas of fading.
6. Listen to the rug.
Fold the rug. If you hear a crackling sound, this indicates damage to the foundation (warp and weft). 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 does not show artificial aging.
There are many methods some merchants use to age rugs. If you separate the pile and the roots are very dark, it is likely the rug has been chemically treated. These rugs have no inherent value and you should avoid them.
9. Accept some imperfections.
Most vintage rugs will have some imperfections. A small stain, a few repairs or some loose threads are not big problems. The joy your vintage rug will bring you more than makes up for imperfections.
At RenCollection Rugs, we know vintage rugs. Our scouts in Iran and Turkey are always on the lookout for unique vintage rugs. Our vintage rugs are vetted carefully. Before we display them in our store, we make sure they are washed and restored, if necessary.. View our collection of vintage rugs here.