‘Limited commercial value…’ is a phrase one will undoubtably read or overhear if one is to spend any amount of time dealing within the antique and collectable segment of the rug and carpet trade. Its use, seemingly at once condescending and pompous, is oft part of a compliment sandwich akin to: ‘It’s a beautiful example of [BLANK], of limited commercial value, but serviceable and hard wearing. Keep it if you love it!’ The question I now ask somewhat rhetorically of these learned aficionados of past glories is thus: ‘What, exactly, gives any old, worn, antique, vintage, or to be fully encompassing, extant rug or carpet its ‘commercial value?’
The whims of fashion and taste – le mode de le saison – of course, for it is certainly not intrinsic qualities such as durability nor artistic merit. The former far too practical for the concerns of those out for profit, the latter too subjective and oft manufactured to be of any discernible value.
And so it is the rug and carpet trade of all manner is confronted with the age old dilemma of those who have and continue to craft enduring wares. With innumerable examples of objets de collection including but not limited to handknotted rugs and carpets which, for various and arbitrary reasons left uncounted, have both risen and fallen from desire and thus ‘commercial value,’ one is left to ponder the veracity of the oft preposterous notions of the rug and carpet trade – of which there are many. Without belabouring those finer and nuänced points of discussion, let us instead simply ask, ‘What do you think imbues a handknotted rug or carpet with value – commercial, intrinsic, or otherwise? And moreover, how or do these qualities mesh with the current and emerging needs and wants of modern society?’