All excerpts are compilations taken from postings submitted by a Rug Rag affiliate (Robert), most all have been taken out of context. The following content provided by Robert do not necessarily reflect the opinion or sentiments of rugrag.com, however some excerpts do hold water:
On an ebay mashad rug:
Ok, first I am going to say something I hope does not offense anyone. These kashmar rug first of all is not at all an antique. This carpet is no more than 60 years old, and the term antique is defined by US custom laws specifically for an oriental rug to be of 100 years and older. If you see a seller throwing around the word antique for anything less than 80 years old, you know he probably has no clout. This kashmar rug probably originated from one of many ebay sellers who import them from Iran used. Although you could be getting a good deal even at 2000 in mint, untouched condition (as though it were just cut from the loom). This rug does show classic signs of wear such as blooming of the pile. You can assess wear yourself, but it takes a pro to do it thoroghly. Always carefully consider condition on an older rug, uneven wear or exposure to the foundation is a very bad thing. A lot of seller of these lower end goods literally marker the pile to avoid costly repairs where foundation shows. All this should be very, very carefully considered in the purchase. I entirely support your desire to buy the rug, but I would encourage you to take some detail photographs of the reverse side, and detail of the pile and knot count, and submit it to the pros. If you truly love the rug, you won't need to be told what is and is not the value. The value will be willing to pay - but an honest seller should not exploit this. This other red rug someone posted from their living room is another classic example from ebay which looks great, although often colors run in this carpets when washed, and wear shows fairly quickly. this is often called a "mashad."
Value and condition are hand in hand. Keep this in mind when purchasing. If you have any and all questions I belong to a forum you can come to and ask questions. we talk specifically about authentication of ebay items, craigslist rugs and other. Just be sure to bring high resolution photographs for posting
On Different Types of Sellers:
in response to : "What do you think of these small business people that advertise rugs for sale on Craigslist and say they are a "home based business" selling rugs out of a garage or warehouse for a fraction of the prices at the department stores?" I have to tell you, competition is competition. I don't have a problem with Macy's per se. What I do have a problem with is their advertising techniques. Concerning craiglist people selling from their garages... I know these types of goods, most of them are made in Iran, heavily used in Iran, either tea washed (sometimes to hide wear) and sometimes painted / or cleaned in Iran, then imported to the US. Often these rugs are in dire need of repair or more appropriately should be put to rest as its days are long gone. When you see a markered carpet this should be a red flag. there's nothing wrong with purchasing a used carpet, but a rug of which a repair is not warranted will often be augmented by these deceiving practices. My personal feeling is this: whether or not garage sellers import the goods themselves from overseas, or acquire them from ebay sellers is none of my business. What is my ongoing concern is whether or not these carpets are being properly represented. For example, a rug should not be called veggie dyed if it is less than 85% vegetable dye. A carpet should not be called Persian unless it was produced pre-1930s. Furthermore, an antique should not be called this unless it complies with what was a long standing US customs import export definition (exclusively for oriental rugs) unless it is of 100+ years of age (I can forgive 80+ years). I have to be honest, I completely understand macy's angle of attack with their suggested retail prices. BUT I do not agree with it, and this is not an advertising technique I would ever consider. It gives honest sellers a tough time because everyone thinks all rug sellers do this as the guy above said. While I do not encourage people to convince themselves they are getting a find from the craigslist garage seller, I completely understand the desire and need for an inexpensive "Persian Design" hand knotted carpet. We all love hand woven carpets, but if you have kids and a dog, you don't want that $5000 rug to be messed with. In some ways, you have to pat these garage sellers on the back - you know if they purchase off ebay, they're getting burned just as easily as the next guy once in a while. But keep in mind, for every rug they got burned on, the price gets incorporated into the one which passed.... Also, for these types of rugs, many of them are carpets which would NEVER be seen in a retail store, I don't care where you go. These are internet rugs: they show great on your monitor, and okay in person. Once you're there, what do you have to compare it to? What these sellers sell these carpets for ARE what you would consider a retail price as they ARE the retail outlet - even if it is from their basement. I only hope these sellers are not misguiding their consumers as I have seen many of them do. I also wish them good luck in sales, as everyone needs food on their plate... I just think these age exaggerations and misnomers of carpets is very confusing even as a rugman myself let alone to the buyer.
On Advertising Techniques:
There is an element of deception involved: a certain amount of implication among novice buyers that an Iranian rug is more valuable than others. I simply do not respect sellers that exploit this misconception. The fact of the matter is, people need gratification - they want to feel the carpet they purchased is special. But where is the virtue in intentional price inflation, or advertisments exploiting common misconceptions on behalf of new buyers?
What I was getting at before was the unspoken clout Persian rugs have. Actually when I was making the distinguishing remark between Persian and Iranian, I was not necessarily pointing out differences in quality… although from the 1950’s going forward to the 70’s, quality control, at least from the US importers standpoint, became very difficult. The point I was trying to make was more towards the distinguishing of what is a Persian rug, and what is an Iranian rug. Call it semantics, but Persia became Iran in the mid 1930s. Therefore, a TRUE Persian rug must be one produced prior to this point in time. Let me say this in comparison of older Indian and pakistan carpets. Many of the most well known and attributed carpets which reside in museums are of Persian origin. However, there are extremely notable weavings which have originated from India, China and other countries of production. In fact, there are many, many Indian carpets from the late 19th century which are, knot for knot, significantly more valuable than their Persian counterpart. Some Indian designs were even adapted by Persian weavers and vise versa. Now the point you bring up in regards to older rugs being of finer grade to some extent. This is neither true or false. One could suggest the commercialization of the Oriental Rug Industry truly took off in the 1920s. At this point in time, we see a higher demand, and AMERICANS dictating the designs and coloring they desired – even standardizations of sizes became more popular as sizes were more arbitrary prior to this point in time. The american sarouk is a prime example of this market demand from America dictating how rugs were colored post production. One could suggest, that commercialization cheapened the quality of newer rugs today, however this is simply not true. Yes carpets have become in a sense, less personalized as importers request specific designs, colorings and then produced on massive levels from SOME importers requests… But the fact of the matter is, almost all countries have their cream of the crop carpets, and their junk pieces too. The world has become flat, and the market is now less transparent. What once was a beautiful celebrated and romantic industry has since been bastardized by mass producers such as Costco, ikea and others to name a few.
Now, in regards to child labor, I am not going to go into this discussion. All I will say is I worked for my family too at a very young age. From my position this is a ever changing topic. What people don’t realize is that weaving is a celebration of family, beliefs and tradition. I will leave it at that unless you want me to flesh it out more. What I will suggest is you go to jacobsen's web site in Syracuse NY and take a look at their information on "Labor"
On Testing quality of wool:
For poor wool quality test the pile: Take your hand and rub vigorously on the pile back and forth a dozen times in one isolated area. If you roll all the fibers which are released into a circular ball and it is equal to or greater than the pile of the rug, you probably have an inferior quality wool.
This is the thing for wool. There are many, many different types. Coarser wool has a brittle, wirey, drier feel in general... although in cases of older rugs with good quality wool, it may have become slightly drier from age. What I'm talking about here is on a very sensitive scale, you have to have comparison pieces to really understand the difference. What determines the quality of wool is the length of the "staple" which basically measures the length of each fiber to comprise one strand of yarn or "ply".
Although some rugs rugs have what you would call a "break in period" and shed over a period of several months then plateau or dissipate through use, vacuuming, etc. A carpet with inferior wool will almost always shed.
One common problem with ebay, just as a side note, is sellers advertise the rugs as having Kurk wool. Kurk wool is a very choice wool, among many, which is specifically taken from the neck and underarms of the sheep. This is a very high grade, long stapled wool (and soft) which is expensive to manufacture and usually seen in higher kpsi rugs. A higher KPSI weaving will, under most sense making cases, use a higher grade wool to justify the knot density and vise versa. But the reality is that these eBay sellers abuse comnonly accepted rug terms to inflate their items. No good.
Alternatively, there are some poorly made carpets which use an inferior wool which in the industry is known as a "dead wool." Some characteristics of such include a pile which is "coarse and dry" to the touch. The decision of what type of wool to use traditionally speaking, is primarily a function of knot density. This dead wool often appears in low knot count rugs for high production carpets geared towards the masses where profit is the objective.
The proper balance of wool quality and knot count takes a highly knowledgeable weaver/producer to ascertain, although many superstores have flooded the market with junk rugs.
Now, to confuse the issue more, there are instances where carpets have undergone a certain type of washing called "luster wash". This process basically gives the pile a softer feel, and a higher luster.
Important side note: Do not attribute quality of wool to the country of origin.
Good types of wool include: Mohair, Manchester wool, Kurk Wool, Worsted Wool, etc. But don't tell the sellers word for it unless you trust them and they have some authority. I'm really glad you guys are familiar with Jacobsen. The original owner published a book back in the day which is still considered to be a high authority on the subject of Oriental Rugs. Honestly I don't think much about them has changed.
More on Testing Wool:
It's somewhat of a silly test, but I've found it to be fairly accurate once a carpet has acclimated to it's first stages of shedding. If you're at the dealer and want to try it, I would ask them to first vacuum the rug thoroughly with a beater vacuum to release any already loose fibers.
Unless the carpet is extremely tattered, you don't really have to be all that careful with vacuuming per se, unless of course you get the fringe stuck in the rug's roller, which can and may damage the rug.
Here is a quick answer: You either are experiencing a break in period of shedding, or, your carpet is made of an inferior wool. Test the pile: Take your hand and rub vigorously on the pile back and forth a dozen times in one isolated area. If you roll all the fibers which are released into a circular ball and it is equal to or greater than the pile of the rug, you probably have an inferior quality wool.
Here is a longer answer:
back to your main question, it is not uncommon for many rugs to have what you would call a "break in period" where over the first several months you may experience moderate shedding which is not entirely unusual. Use of a beater vacuum as opposed to an air suction vacuum will help the carpet come to a resting point where shedding dissipates and comes to a plateau.
Alternatively, there are some poorly made carpets which use an inferior wool which in the industry is known as a "dead wool." Some characteristics of such include a pile which is "coarse and dry" to the touch. The decision of what type of wool to use traditionally speaking, is primarily a function of knot density. What determines the quality of wool is the length of the "staple" which basically measures the length of each fiber to comprise one strand of yarn or "ply". This dead wool often appears in low knot count rugs for high production carpets geared towards the masses where profit is the objective. The proper balance of wool quality and knot count takes a highly knowledgeable weaver/producer to ascertain, although many superstores have bastardized the industry and therefore are flooding the market with junk rugs.
A note on high volume low quality rugs: superstores such as ikea, costco and other are just to name a few. Sometimes these pieces wind up at your local church auction or "government seized Persian rug sale" maybe even at that "going out of business sale" that's been running for the past 2 years... They have collections which are called hamadans, and bokhara designs (and other) sometimes actually made in Iran and India, however are of much inferior quality not to be confused with traditional hamadan and bokhara rugs which generally are of higher quality. These superstores produce the lowest quality rugs possible, and often spend more money on importing the rugs to the states than they do on the cost of the whole container of merchandise combined.