Friday, April 29, 2011

The Rug Auction

Ever since we moved to California eight years ago, by way of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada I have had a weakness for good old Navajo rugs. I remember picking up my first Ganado style rug at the Hubbell Trading Post and I've been picking them up ever since. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a tiny ad in the Los Angeles Times about an American Indian Auction being held in Pasadena - and I knew I had to go. I walked into the room and I instantly felt I had found my people and my rugs. Ganado, Klagatoh, Crystal, Two Gray Hills - all were represented by an old auctioneer and his family of traders.


I set my sights on a couple of beauties and picked up a paddle thinking I would dabble in the auction if the prices were reasonable. The auction started out with some sterling and turquoise jewelry from the twenties - "Who'll give me a hundred, a hundred, a hundred, ok - seventy five, seventy five, seventy five - no? Ok - fifty, fifty, fifty" - and finally someone would raise their paddle and the auctioneer would yell "SOLD!"


So, when it came time for the rugs - I half expected a similar pattern - but what I heard was "Who'll give me three fifty, three fifty, three fifty - no? Ok - move it out" Move it out? - but I thought there was going to be more of a game - what about 300 or 250 or 200? Sadly, no. What I learned at the American Indian Auction that day is that Navajo rugs are not given away - they are prized for their craft, beauty and history and there is a buyer who will always pay for a good rug.


When the next rug came up for auction, I was ready. The auctioneer said, "Who'll give me three fifty, three fifty, three fifty?" I slowly raised my paddle.  SOLD! No bargaining, no bidding war, just me and the auctioneer. The result.... I am now the proud owner of a 1900 handwoven, wool, Crystal style rug (gulp). I guess I'll have to hit the road and see if I can find a bargain the next time. I'm thinking about a rug tour - a van, a tent and the open road, headed towards Taos.  Anyone?  Anyone?

10 comments:

Deirdre said...

The rug is absolutely stunning! Congratulations on a wonderful purchase. I'm all for a rug tour...but I don't know about the tent. Unless nature comes equipped with outlets in trees. ;)
Congrats again, and thanks so much for sharing!
xoDeirdre

barb said...

The rug is beautiful, and the experience is as interesting as the weave of the rug.
I love the concept that the works of art have a price and it is not negotiable.
Your rug will hold it's value !
Barb

Melissa said...

Sounds like a bargain to me! How long do you think it would take you to weave a rug? They all looked stunning.

molly said...

just met a woman in the park today who photographed elder weavers and their rugs, over a ten year period, in the 80's. she told me you can't GET a rug for $350! So, sounds like a bargain after all... maybe I'll wait to go over to her place for when you get to town and we can check out her goods then. She's got 6 of her own, after all that...

Anonymous said...

Great rug! And WOW!!!! $350??!!?? That is a huge bargain. Being from the southwest, I know that fine Navajo weaving goes for literally thousands of dollars--and deservedly so. Congrats on your purchase.

Anonymous said...

Kaari, you will love Taos and I'll meet you there if you need company! It's a community of fabulous artists and writers! You purchased a wonderful rug; love the colors!

Julie B.
tabbytribe@earthlink.net

Anonymous said...

Kaari, you will love Taos and I'll meet you there if you need company! It's a community of fabulous artists and writers! You purchased a wonderful rug; love the colors!

Julie B.
tabbytribe@earthlink.net

Sharrieboberry said...

Sounds like a great bargain! You got a rug over 100 years old for $350!!

New ones cost more. Without the coolness.

Anonymous said...

Well done! I'll be in Taos in September, as my plan goes now. That could also mean Santa Fe, and we've talked about that idea... Maybe the cards will play out for a rendevous! OX Hol

A bird in the hand said...

What luck!! Really.
"Walk in beauty" (from a Navajo Song).