ID Victorian ingrain carpet?

jlc102482June 16, 2013

I found this carpet heaped in a pile at an estate sale yesterday. There was no room to spread it out and look at the pattern at the sale, but I had a gut feeling and bought it based on its color scheme. Once I got it home and spread it out, I looked at the pattern and the construction (it's composed of long strips that are sewn together) and thought it must be a Victorian ingrain carpet. I have never examined one in person, though, so I'm not sure. It's very big, about 17 x 17 feet, and I'm pretty sure it's wool based on its smell (that wooly smell!), its scratchiness and its very heavy weight. Can anyone help me ID the carpet, and perhaps an approximate date or period?

Also, how should and where should I store it without causing damage to it? Some areas of the joining seams are a little loose and there are a few small ancient-looking patches on the underside that are falling off. Otherwise it's in bright, nearly unworn shape and I'd like to keep it that way until I can figure out where to put it. The rooms in my current house are a little too small to accommodate it...

Last, any idea what it's worth? Just asking out of curiosity. :)

The pattern (with a cat for scale purposes, or something)

Closeup of one of the joining seams and the selvage. My camera flash is washing the colors out in this and the next photo.

Closeup of the texture of the weave

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You might also find information on it as a "Kidderminster carpet" from the town that wove many of them.

These people might know: still weaves them

Here is a link that might be useful: Carpet history

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:01PM
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Also, how should and where should I store it without causing damage to it?

Find a clean floor you can unroll it on (cover a clean garage floor with a dropcloth if you have no other place), check it for stains, note the position and type of any damage, and vacuum it gently with a NON-powered vacuum head. (don't use the kind with rotating bristles) to get any dust and vermin out of it.

Turn it over and vacuum again.

While you have it out, take some really GOOD, well-lit pictures of it for identification. Take a whole-rug shot, and some shots of the patterns, with a 1-foor ruler in it for size comparisons. Also shoot any damaged spots, with something for size comparison. Do both sides, and flip one corner back so you can shoot both sides at once for a comparison there.

"Worth" is what you can get someone to pay for it ... it's a huge rug, so that limits the market, but if it's in good, unfaded condition, you could probably sell it to a rug dealer for several hundreds.

Get a heavy-duty 3" or 4" PVC pipe (you may need two of them and a slip joint for this rug) and several well-washed cotton sheets. Overlap the sheets so the area they cover is big enough to lay the rug on plus a couple of feet on either end and a foor or so at the sides.

Lay the rug on the sheets with a foot of sheet still exposed (closer to one end), and lay the pipe on the sheet. Start rolling it up, making a jellyroll of the sheet and carpeting. You should end up with the rug completely rolled inside the sheets. Loosely tie or baste the roll closed. Gather and tie the sheeting around the pipe at the ends of the roll.

Store the roll somewhere that is dry and free of wool-eating pests.

The seams can be restitched or reinforced with linen carpet thread, and damaged areas can be darned or rewoven with wool needlepoint yarn if needed.

Note that you can resize these by removing a strip,

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:28PM
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I'm assuming it's a reproduction (and a fine one! no H8) because you will never run across an original in such condition.I remember reading that the strips were 27" wide (IIRC)
This is a super find. I can imagine that for the right price, some house museum could put it to use. You could probably take it apart at the seams and re-stitch it to fit otherwise-shaped rooms.
This was usually fit wall-to-wall.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:50AM
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Being nosy: What did you pay for it?

Also, if you decide to clean it, send it to a really good carpet cleaning place, the kind that works for museums. Don't use the ones that do brightening, lightening, and other stuff. Mild soap and whatever they use on wool rugs to restore the lanolin is all it needs.

Even if it's a repro and not original, it's several thousands of dollars of carpeting, and worth getting the right treatment.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Thanks so much for the help, this was very useful! I am going to take better photos tonight or tomorrow and will post them as soon as I do. In the meantime, I spread the carpet out completely and unfortunately did find some damage I hadn't been able to see before. There are a couple worn-looking squares and a light blue stain about the size of a silver dollar. It came from the estate of a local artist, so it might be ink or watercolor...darn.

As for the price, it was marked $325 but I only paid a $125. I didn't even have to haggle - the estate sale employees said they were sick of tripping over it! Since I couldn't spread it out at the sale, the employees tried to describe it to me and said that there was "some damage" that "someone had sewed back together". However, there aren't any repair stitches. I think the estate sale people mistook the joining seams for damage that had been sewn back together. Their loss, my gain! :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 3:42PM
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Wow ... even if you end up cutting it down to fit your rooms, or removing one strip and shortening it into an area rug ... that's amazing. less than 50 cents a square foot!

Have you calculated what it would bring if you made pillow covers out of it and sold them on Etsy? If vintage kilim can sell for $30-90 per cover you should get rich off the thing.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 6:09PM
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Okay, I finally got better photos of the carpet. Once I got it outside and measured it on the lawn, I realized my initial measurements were COMPLETELY off - it's 13 x 11, not 17 x 17! That's what happens when you try to measure something with a confusing pattern that's all folded up. :/

I have sadly decided to sell it, only because it's too big for my house and I can't bear to take apart any seams.

Given the actual size and the photos of the worn/split areas, can anyone tell me what a fair price might be for this thing? I have an idea in my head but I want to make sure it's sensible. I don't feel I know enough about antique rugs to come up with my own price.

These are the worst areas:

The REAL size:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Oh my, it's lovely. The split seams can be restitched, and the worn areas can be rewoven with a closely matching wool yarn. They aren't major flaws.

I'd start by asking the dealers who specialize in that kind of rug, like the one at the link. They won;t buy at full retail, but they have contacts they can resell to.

OR ... sell it on as is. If I had the room for it, I wouldn't flinch at several hundred dollars ... if you take the time to write to a few museums that spedcialize in that period and get a better ID and date the price could go up.

I'd ask the same as for any antique flatweave wool rug of that size from a good company. The last kilim I saw of that size was selling for over $700.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ist Dibs Carpet for 5800

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:12PM
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