Press section

Claremont Rug Company Acquires “Treasury” Of Collectible Antique Art Rugs

Jan David Winitz
  • Forbes.com

October 12, 2010—Claremont Rug Company today announced the acquisition of an 85-piece collection of rare 19th century art-level Oriental rugs assembled and held by a single family over four generations.

Entitled “The Heartland Treasury of Antique Art Carpets,” the collection will be available for viewing on the Gallery’s website (www.claremontrug.com) on Thursday and at the Gallery’s Oakland, CA location on Saturday.

Assembled by two generations of an industrialist family between the 1930’s and 1970’s, the collection contains a wide gamut of connoisseur-level pieces from the major weaving centers and renowned tribal groups created during “The Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving” (circa 1800 – 1910).

“This august assemblage includes a number of one-of-a-kind, art-level specimens so unique that no published examples can be found, while others are sterling renderings of important, age-old styles,” said Jan David Winitz, President and founder of Claremont Rug Company.

He explained that the collection is unique in that the vast majority of pieces are in the 3×5 to 6×9 size range. He said, “These are the sizes that collectors relish and have become so difficult to obtain in the best examples. The great majority of the rugs have been maintained in astonishing condition.” Room-size and oversize carpets are also included.

Winitz said, “It is a stroke of great fortune for rug aficionados that this cache of pieces of such great age and awe-inspiring beauty has come to us, as pieces of this magnitude have become virtually impossible to find through traditional sources.”

Primarily assembled by a father and son who were manufacturing magnates in the early and mid-20th century, the collection was kept intact by the third generation. A daughter from the fourth generation from which Claremont purchased the rugs said, “We wanted to keep the collection together, but we found it difficult to divide the pieces fairly.”

The seller also said, “I remember as kids we would regularly watch Grandpa rustle through his chests of rugs, choose a rug and open it. He was more apt to pick up a rug book in the morning than he was to read the newspaper. And Grandmother was continually having the rugs changed throughout the house,” she said.

According to the family, the collection had been displayed on the walls or draped over tables, as well as on floors of the family’s four homes. They were also stored in rug chests and vaults.

The great grandfather became enthused to seriously collect Oriental rugs after being a guest at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY. Some of the most rare carpets are the approximately 25 pieces he bought during a three-month art-buying trip to the Near East in the 1950’s. These include:

  • An extended series of highly collectible Caucasian rugs, including an early 19th century Schulaver Kazak and “Blossom” Shirvan runners and extremely rare mid- 19th century Khila and Konagend Kuba rugs.
  • A premier-quality, 175-year-old Motasham Kashan in excellent condition.
  • An extraordinarily finely crafted 12×16 Laver Kirman of extremely rare design, circa 1825.

The current generation chose Claremont after intense scrutiny, concluding that the Gallery would treat “this important part of our family’s history with great respect and appreciation” and that the carpets will be placed with “a clientele who will cherish and preserve them.”

A Collection brochure for the has been published and the collection will be on display at the Gallery, with an extensive sampling on its high-resolution website.

Based on the sale of the Intercontinental Collection this past spring, Winitz expects significant interest from international buyers. “The Intercontinental event virtually sold out (180 rugs) in less than five months,” he said. “We had expected that it would take 12 months or more. And more than half the sales were completed via the Internet or via digital images.”

“The interest and enthusiasm for art-level rugs has been building rapidly over the past several years,” said Winitz, who opened Claremont in 1980. “Art publications are beginning to understand the majesty of rugs; financial publications have picked up on the dramatically increasing valuations, and art connoisseurs have responded by adding great rugs to their collections on the rare occasions when pieces of this magnitude become available.”