How to Appraise Antique Persian Rugs


Accurately assessing the value of a Persian rug is a task that requires extensive knowledge of rug-making techniques, materials and regional differences in design. An antique Persian rug is even harder to appraise because its age, condition and repair history all affect its value. While there are certain benchmark characteristics, such as the number of knots per square inch (kpsi) in the weave or the type of dye used for coloring that can roughly place a carpet's value, subjective judgements concerning its historic and aesthetic value play a large part in determining its true value.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Flip one end of the rug over so that the back is facing you and place a tape measure along the weave pattern. Count the number of knots in a 1-inch interval. The kpsi for a rustic tribal carpet made with coarse wool generally falls in the range of 35 to 50 while that for a much more valuable one made of silk can be 300 or more. All other factors being equal, the value of the carpet increases with the kpsi.

  • Examine the colors on the face of the carpet. If they are muted and earthy, the maker probably used natural vegetable dyes. While this practice is still common, many contemporary carpets are dyed with artificial dyes which makes the colors more vibrant, but also more artificial-looking. A carpet dyed with natural dyes is more valuable than one dyed with artificial dyes because it is more aesthetically pleasing, probably older and likely not produced in a factory.

  • Identify the pattern to establish the carpet's historic value, if any. There are regional differences in design motifs throughout the traditional area of origination of Persian carpets, which comprises present-day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and surrounding countries. A simple identification strategy is to visit the websites of online rug dealers and compare the pattern to their samples.

  • Look for worn or faded areas on the face of the carpet, as well as signs that the carpet has been repaired. While they detract from the carpet's value, they are a sign of age that can help establish the carpet as an antique.

  • Examine the border of the carpet for a signature woven into the pattern, usually rendered in arabic script. While many rug-makers approach the activity as a craft, others consider it an art and sign their work. As with other works of art, the value of a signature depends on the fame of the artist and the demand for his work.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you suspect you have a valuable rug, have it assessed by a certified rug appraiser. An antique dealer, auctioneer or even rug dealer is unlikely to have the specialized knowledge required to determine the rug's true value.
  • A valuable antique rug, while initially made to walk on, is best hung on the wall or placed on an area of the floor that has little foot traffic.
  • If you have a valuable rug, acquire sufficient homeowner's insurance to cover loss or damage to it.

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