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It is often said that the starting point for a well-thought-out room is the floor covering. Despite the softening of demand for old-school English country house furnishings, antique carpets remain a staple of interior decoration - particularly as the polished and waxed hardwood floor is back in fashion.
A multitude of different cultural impulses and artistic endeavour nestle together under the umbrella of the carpets and rugs market. They include the finest weavings from the traditional carpet-making centres of Persia and India, the luxurious products of the Aubusson region of France and giants of both the British Arts and Crafts and the European Modernist movements
Particularly popular are the kilims, once used by tribal communities but now decorative items for the modern home, or the large carpets produced in the 19th and early 20th century for British merchants operating in the East. These designs, often a synthesis of Persian and Indian motifs, were made to Western taste that ensues today. Among the best known are the Ziegler Mahals, named after a Manchester firm that supervised the production of carpets for export in the area around the city of Arak (Sultanabad).
Sworders have also enjoyed success selling the stylish Arts and Crafts carpets and rugs woven at the Merton Abbey Mills for Morris & Co and in Donegal, Ireland. The most striking and desirable are those by influential designers such as Archibald Knox, Charles Voysey, or William Morris.
Some key things to consider when buying rugs and carpets at auction:
Sworders regularly offer rugs and carpets to suit any style or budget in our Fine Interiors, Homes & Interiors and our 20th Century & Modern Design sales. Our specialists, listed below, are always on hand and more than happy to offer advice about buying and selling at auction.
Our specialists hold regular valuation days. Please contact us for more information, or complete the online form to enquire about the valuation of your items.
A fairly unassuming playbill bought in an Epping charity shop for £5 sold for £4,750 in our auction of Fine Interiors on Wednesday 30 June after it was discovered to be a rare theatrical advertisement printed on the H.M.S Resolute during its Arctic expedition in the 1850s.
A collapsible silk top hat - perfect for a Victorian night at the opera, or a 20th century magic trick - comes for sale on July 20.
As we prepare for our next Fine Interiors sale, to be held 29 & 30 June, we invited Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, a third-generation art dealer specialising in portraiture from the 16th to 20th centuries, to share her personal favourites from the auction. Here, she introduces her highlights within the diverse range of pieces in the upcoming sale.