Vintage Carpet Buying Guide

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Vintage Carpet Buying Guide

Designers, collectors, and people from all around the world collect vintage carpets and rugs for their history and unique appearance. They are considered by everyone to be fine and rare pieces of art, and therefore highly collectable and perfect for home decoration. Rugs add colour, texture, and a focal point to a room. They each have their own patterns that were woven by hand and are completely unique. In technical terms, a rug is defined as being under 9 by 2 feet, and anything larger is a carpet. However, in recent years these terms have become interchangeable with each other.

Vintage rugs and carpets are great because they can be used in a number of ways. They can add colour and dimension to the floor by going under the dining room table, in the living room, in a workspace, hung on the wall, and even on top of the bed. Finding and purchasing vintage rugs can be difficult because they are popular decoration and collection items. A lot of people want them which makes them rarer and drives the price up. Knowing how to prepare for the purchase, what time periods there are, how to tell quality, the importance of research and appraisals, and where to shop for them will help buyers make the correct purchase for them.

History of Carpets

Carpets have been made throughout history and started out as stretched animal hides that were placed on the floor. The hides helped provide protection against the cold nights and chilly floors. People eventually switched to weaving fabrics together and evidence of flat weaving was found in Mesopotamian and Egyptian tombs that dates back to 4,000 years ago.

Asia was the first area that began to produce these rugs in quantity. They used the wool from their flocks of sheep so make rugs and coverings that protected them from the cold but were also softer than the rough animal hide.

Rug history took a big turn in 1949 when a Russian archaeologist discovered a burial site in Siberia with a frozen Pazyryk carpet in it. This carpet is the oldest one discovered and dates back to the 5th century. Its knotted pattern and brilliant colours sparked more people’s interest in rugs.

Measure the Area for the Vintage Carpet

Rugs come in all sizes and the unique thing about vintage rugs is that they are not priced according to their size. Their value is linked to their age, condition, and rarity. Since rugs have a huge impact on the way a living space looks, it is important to get the sizing right. Rugs help break up a space, add new lines, and define areas. To do this, the carpet has to be proportionately sized to the space and the furniture. If the furniture is going to be place directly onto the rug, make sure that the rug is large enough that there is at least 6 inches of extra space around the furniture.

Determining the Budget for Vintage Carpets

Vintage carpets fluctuate greatly in price based on their condition, age, and rarity. This makes it difficult for people to establish a budget because it is hard to predict how much the carpet will cost. However, the fluctuating costs makes it even more necessary to set a budget because it is easier to go over it if a carpet is found that is irresistible and rare, but more expensive. Very rare carpets can easily cost several thousand pounds. The most expensive rugs come from the 18th century.

Choosing the Era and Time Period

Every time period in history has its own unique style. One way to really narrow down the search is to research each era and culture and decide which ones are the most appealing. Oriental, Persian, Turkish, Spanish, and Indian rugs are typically the most popular and easier ones to find.

Types of Carpet Knots

The knots used to weave carpets are actually a series of loops that are wrapped around strands of cord. Ghiordes, or Turkish, knots are symmetrical with the yard wrapping around the chord and both ends coming up together. Senneh, or Persian, knots are asymmetrical with yarn that wraps under one chord and then around the other. Jufti knots can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, but they wrap around multiple pairs of chord at a time, making this type of weave much faster to do, but less dense. Spanish knots wrap symmetrically around every other chord instead of each one like the others.

Vintage Carpet Quality

The texture and quality of vintage carpets is determined by how tightly woven they are as well as how many knots per square inch, also known as KPSI, they have. The KPSI measurement is found by multiplying the number of vertical knots by the number of horizontal knots in one square inch.

A rug with 70 or 80 knots per square inch will have a coarse texture and will not withstand as much wear and tear. Rugs with over 100 knots per square inch have a medium texture and durability, and rugs with around 200 knots per square into are very fine and high quality. Some rugs may have up to 300 or 400 knots KPSI, but they are rarer and expensive.

Doing the Research on Vintage Carpets

One of the best ways to prepare for purchasing a rug is to order some books on the subject. They have information and pictures that help buyers decide on what they want to look for. However, probably the most important part of the research is to learn how to find the value of the rugs. This is very important to do with anything vintage because it is very common for sellers to overprice the items.

One of the ways to safeguard against this is to obtain an appraisal. There are two kinds of appraisals, the full written ones and the verbal ones.

Full Written Appraisals

These appraisals are detailed and cost several hundred pounds at minimum. Ask the appraiser what the cost will be before securing their business to avoid being overcharged. The document requires a lot of time and research on the appraiser’s part and is considered to be a legal document upon completion.

Verbal Estimation

Verbal estimations usually cost under one hundred pounds. There is still research and time involved and some comparable pieces may be presented to support the value estimation. There are no written documents given and it is difficult to prove a verbal estimation.

Where to Shop for Vintage Carpets

Shopping for anything vintage is a real challenge because they are rare and not sold in regular shops. Some second hand shops may have them on occasion but it is very unlikely that people will donate their carpets to these stores unless they are unaware of the value. Antique shops occasionally precure them as well, but the difficulty with these kinds of shops is that they have a tendency to overprice everything for the convenience.

Lately, the majority of shopping for vintage products is done online on websites like eBay. This is because the website provides one central location where anyone from around the world can sell their vintage items. Because of this, the selection of vintage products is much larger than any local shop can have. New products are also added everyday, so buyers can visit frequently to see if anything new is available.

Find Vintage Carpets on eBay

To begin monitoring the vintage carpets that come available, go to the eBay website. There are two ways to search for the carpets. First, go to the Category page and find the section for vintage products. Then locate the page specifically for carpets. However, the quicker way to go about this is to use the search bar that is located on every eBay page. Simply type the name of what you are looking for into the box and then click the Search button. For example, enter "Vintage Persian Carpet", "Vintage Oriental Carpet", or "Vintage Turkish Carpet". If you are unsure of which rugs you want to look for, type something more general like, "Vintage Carpet". This will give you the ability to browse through everything and see what designs capture your fancy.

It is definitely recommended that buyers do their research on any carpets that they are interested in. Find out if the price is in line with what the value should be, get quality photos of the carpet to see its condition, and read the entire description that the seller has listed. Lastly, make sure that the seller is reputable by reading through the reviews that they got from their past clients.


Vintage rugs have a unique beauty that makes them ideal for decorating with. Their colours, textures, and designs are rich with cultural history. Whether they are used as area rugs or hung on the wall, they can be a great addition to any room decor. Most people have no idea where to begin when they decide to start shopping for vintage rugs. Anything vintage can be tricky to find and value. However, anyone is capable of finding one of these ancient beauties by simply setting their budget, choosing the culture and time period that they are interested in, understanding how to determine the value and quality of the rug, and then knowing where to shop for them.

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