For the novice collector the decision to buy an Oriental carpet requires much careful thought since he is not only attempting to invest his money wisely, but he is acquiring a piece which reflects his taste, which will blend harmoniously with the furniture in his rooms and with which he will presumably live for many years, even decades. However, the time he will invest in looking at the various possibilities will not be wasted, since he will enrich his knowledge and experience with many very beautiful objects.
Nevertheless, the novice is strongly advised to buy his first Oriental carpet from a reputable specialist dealer who is able to advise him and who will permit his clients to take carpets back to his own home to ‘try them out’. Moreover, although some dealers stock both old and new carpets, the novice who is interested in acquiring an old or antique piece is well advised to get to know those dealers who specialise in these. Auctions are best left alone until the collector has sufficient experience; since he will not be able to return a carpet he as bought and, without experience, he may easily be led astray and pay an excessive price. If one is in any doubt about an expensive carpet, it maybe be worth while to seek the advice of an expert. Door-to-door salesmen and ‘exhibitions’ are to be strictly avoided. Usually the poorest carpets, or even machine-made imitations are sold by these methods.
The old rule that the clearer the pattern can be seen on the back, the better the piece, has some truth, there are exceptions. Bend the carpet outwards from the back; if it does not spring back, the foundation may be brittle which will materially shorten its life. The pile should also recover immediately if it is pressed down hard. If the colours are lighter on the top than at the root of the knot, investigate further. It may be that the carpet has been chemically ‘washed’ to make it look older. Some, if not all such bleaching processes impair the quality of the fabric. On the other hand, a pale surface, can also be due to the use of dyes with poor light-fastness.