Hans Homm, recent rug specialist at Nagel Auktionen in Stuttgart, launched his own Haus with an inaugural auction in Oberursel Stierstadt this past Friday.
Despite a well-planned international publicity campaign the rooms in Stierstadt were poorly attended with no more than 30 people, mostly Frankfurt wholesalers and a couple of internationally known dealers, present. Privates were noticeably absent though a few were detected on the telephones. The possible reasons for this were multifold; obscure location, uneven material, lack of recognition, and perhaps most significantly a poorly presented catalogue.
This viewer was quite surprised to find that many of the pieces on offer were considerably better than they appeared on the net. As for the location, it is well known that true avid collectors will go to the moon if there is a chance of snagging something great. The uneven quality of the material, maybe to some a detriment, was quite the opposite for the wholesalers in the room. It was quite obvious that this was not all a bunch of dealer consigned retreads but mostly fresh material actually garnered from homes.
All of these factors combined to make quite a buying opportunity for this rather specialized crowd. With the exception of 2 rugs (lot 7a silk Ghoum for €620 & lot 25 a Kashan for 400) the first 31 lots were grabbed for prices ranging from €10 to €330. Lot 32, a unique gabbeh featuring vertical rows of camels and used extensively to publicize the sale justifiably jumped up to a hammer price of €2,500 on the phones. Perhaps the best deal in the auction was lot 101, an astonishingly fresh and complete 18th century small kelim (88 X 148 cm.) that sold on an absentee bid for a mere €2,200. It allegedly went to a California collector with the under bidder, perhaps constrained by the need for profit, being one of only two international dealers in the room. Small kelims of this age are few and far between and one in this condition is almost unheard of.
There were a few of surprises. For instance a decorative Moldavian kelim (lot 90, 2.74 X 3.80 m.) hammered out at €7,200 after a drawn out phone battle while a world class Tekke engsi (lot 115, est. €10.000) might or might not have sold after the bidding stopped at only €6,000. 37 lots sold for €100 or less, another 14 lots sold for 200 or less, and 24 went for under 300 with a few more just over that figure. One could see the wholesalers shifting their minds from the logistics of what to pay & what to buy to the problem of “just how am I going to get all of this stuff out of here?” For them, this auction was a dream. That the wholesalers dominated the scene is further clarified by the fact that most of the good collectable material (this is where the poor photography in the catalogue really hurt the Haus) went unsold or is presently ‘under proviso’.
Leaving the provisional lots aside the auction ended with 103 lots sold out of 143 offered. The gross was somewhere in the neighborhood of €50,000, not too bad for a beginning effort.