What is the best way of selling an Oriental rug ?

  • There are several traditional venues – private sale, consign or sell to a reputable  dealer, established auction house, E-Bay,
    Selling an Oriental Rug- Carpet Merchant - Jean Leon Gerome

    Carpet Merchant - Jean Leon Gerome

    Craig’s list, a consignment shop, donate it, or give it to someone.

  • The value of your oriental rug, like most other forms of art, can vary tremendously.  The current 2012 market for most rugs and art  is the worst I’ve witnessed in the many decades I’ve been in the vintage oriental rug business.  Even before the 2008 economic downturn, we noticed a much reduced demand for traditional handmade oriental rugs – both old and new.
  • The pre baby boomers and baby boomers, who have furnished their homes with oriental rugs, are buying few orientals.  While they are downsizing and trying sell their rugs, the subsequent and younger generations are, for the most part,  rejecting orientals in favor of other floor coverings from IKEA and Pottery Barn.  Low demand and high supply means lower prices.  It is a great time to buy.

Except for exceptional rugs – those with great artistic merit, age, and condition – most used oriental rugs are difficult to sell, or even give away to a relative.

How can I determine the value and potential sale-ability of my rug?

  • There are honest rug dealers and knowledgeable auctioneers who will offer free evaluations and advice.
  • Ask friends if they know of a current dealer with whom they have had a positive experience.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your area.
  • Avoid the fly-by-nighters, here today gone tomorrow rug sales, going out of business sales (most are cons), and traveling rug auctioneers.
  • The rug industry is replete with its problem dealers.  Take it to more than one dealer if you question what you are hearing.
  • Be prepared to be disappointed.  But do check, as you might have a treasure.
  • Try to encourage your kids to accept your gift, even if they store it properly for a few years.  (See How do I store a carpet)
  • If you do decide to sell it through auction or consignment, get a written agreement that spells out each party’s obligations – commission rate, fees, payment, etc. Read it carefully before signing.  

Maine Antiques Digest published an excellent series on using auctions in New England for selling an oriental rug.

Good luck!

About the author:
Tad Runge has been buying, selling, washing and repairing vintage oriental rugs in Maine since the 1970s.  He is the latest generation of Runges to buy and sell old oriental rugs, a tradition started in the 1880s in New York by his great grandfather, Edward Runge.
His shop A.E. Runge Oriental Rugs is in Yarmouth, Maine 207-846-9000