the smart collector

Thrift-store rug looks like a real treasure

2014-06-29T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T12:16:43Z Thrift-store rug looks like a real treasureBy Danielle Arnet The Smart Collector Arizona Daily Star
June 29, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Q: Several years ago, I bought a hand-woven rug at a thrift store. It is light wool, fashioned of three panels that are sewn together. It measures almost 9 by 6 feet. How do I get info on this beautiful rug?

A: Our reader adds that the rug involves 99 blocks of geometric designs. Only two are repeats and each block has different colors. She thinks that natural dyes were used.

I think this is a smart collector who made a smart find. Because she bought what she liked, she remains, in her words, “fascinated” by her buy. That’s what smart collecting is all about: Buy what you like, not for investment, because you may have the item for a long time.

The image sent shows the weaving hung on a wall as art. That’s a clever touch. Plus, to top it off, she may have found a good buy.

The reader apparently knows enough about collecting to recognize that her rug is hand-woven and that natural dyes were used to color the yarns. Frankly, we cannot see that in the dark image.

Inspection, especially of the back, will tell how it was made. A textile specialist, not necessarily a rug person, can help on that front. It needs to be seen and handled.

Looking over geometric themes in each block, we recognize classic Southwestern themes. Many are Native American. They may not be duplicated, but variants on common themes appear. Google “Southwest geometric themes” to view similar visuals.

Mulling over characteristics, we think that perhaps a hobby weaver collected area themes to create something he or she cared about. It could have started as a study of regional patterns, Indian themes or geometric designs. Or it could be a personal creation. In this case, it’s the result (product) that matters.

The beauty here is that an object created by an artisan who cared ended up donated to a thrift store, where it was found by a collector who appreciates it.

If market value is an issue, someone who knows textiles can date the piece and render an opinion.

Folk-art and early-Americana sellers set up at high-end shows exhibiting artistic hand weavings at amazing prices. Given a few decades and/or recognition by an expert, this thrift-shop find might be endorsed as a valued piece of outsider or folk art.

Q: What is value on my James Dean plate No. 0044c, “Rebel Without a Cause”? It’s never been on a wall and still has all original papers.

A: I assume the reader refers to a collector plate issued in 1991 by the Hamilton Collection.

We’ve said it here before: Items expressly made to be collectible will never have significant value. The issue is high production; too many exist for limited demand.

Produced at the height of a collectible-plate craze, the Dean plate now faces low to zero demand. We found five offered on eBay for around $20. Completed sales were zero.

Our reader adds that his plate has never been on a wall. But serious collectibles buyers demand MIB, mint in the original box, and preferably never opened. Sometimes the box is worth more than the item. Unboxed plates are a hard sell.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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