MYSTERIOUS and fascinating are the tales that have been woven around Oriental rugs for the benefit - or delusion - of Occidental customers.
"This royal Fantasieh," chants the itinerant auctioneer, "consumed thirty years in the weaving, and was given as a present over two centuries ago to Harun-al-Raschid, Shah of Mesopotamia, by his faithful subjects of Bagdad. On it he knelt and prayed thrice each day, and likewise his successors for five generations, until the Sultan of Turkey overran the land. Then the rug went to Constantinople to adorn the palace of the Sultan, whence it was secretly taken by an escaping slave and sold for thrice five thousand francs to a rich rug merchant who saw at once its extraordinary preciousness.
"Now what am I offered for this treasure of treasures, this priceless jewel? Five thousand dollars, do I hear? No? But ladies and gentlemen, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. Never again," etc., etc., ad nauseam, until finally somebody buys the pearl of pearls for five or six hundred dollars, making glad the heart of the itinerant auctioneer, because he has doubled his money.
I. A superb Daghestan, 6 feet by 4 feet 6, at $ 165.
Not all rug auctions are faked or even faky. This is the regular and legitimate method for disposing in New York City of collections of antiques and special pieces. But it is also the common method by which imperfect rugs and rugs of poor quality are palmed off on the public by dealers who flit from store to store, with occasional changes of name. Whoever buys of such dealers is sure always to pay dear for his purchases and frequently to be fleeced.
Few Americans have an expert knowledge of Oriental rugs; and indeed to few would such knowledge be of value. It is required only for the purchase of important antiques.
But an acquaintance with the types and prices of rugs to be found in better-class shops throughout the United States will both save the purchaser money and enable him to buy rugs appropriate in pattern, color and size to the rooms they are to adorn.