Rippon Boswell review

Category: Auctions

by Sarah Haberkern.

On the 4th of December, one day before advent, Rippon & Boswell held their annual autumn auction though in light of the weather of late, ‘winter auction’ would have been more appropriate. Indeed it might have been a limiting and defining factor in the attendance dominated by collectors and dealers from Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. In addition a few hardy dealers managed to mush in from England and Italy to provide some competition to the mostly local collector weighted audience. 279 lots were offered.


Despite the difficult room situation the auction managed to develop quite nicely. Though many lots went below estimate they contrived to sell at an astonishing 70% success rate. With 32 UVs  (under proviso) this percentage can only increase.  Perhaps the most amazing stat was the meager 32 lots that received no bid. Seems like almost everything was of some interest to someone. If enough UVs go through the total sales may reach or exceed one million Euros hammer. It has to be said that the stalwart collectors in the audience had to be quite pleased; they managed to pick up quite a bit of decent material for realistic prices.


As usual the preview was hung beautifully with known stars such as the Bernheimer garden carpet cypress tree border fragments (lot 5, 3900 € hp) and 9 good karma pieces from the principled and heroic Von Schulenburg* collection including a susani with a supernaturally realistic floral field (lot 25, 15,000 hp), a powerful Shakhrisyabz susani (lot 91, 10,000 € hp), and an incredibly delicately drawn, Moghul inspired,  Bokharan example (lot 182, 22,000 € hp).

The Caucasians offered performed credibly with most fetching prices close to or slightly under their estimates. Lot 80, an interesting Talish formatted Kazak  (lot 80) with an open red field ambitiously estimated at 36,000 € managed to climb to a more realistic 26,000 € (uv) level while lot 82, an impeccably drawn, formatted, and spaced, Talish with a rich indigo field featuring a diminutive, barely visible, concentric free floating diamond (signature?) in center field garnered 17,000 hp against its estimate of 19,000 €. Lot 160, a crowded and slightly stiff Karatchoph Kazak in remarkable condition made 19,000 € hp versus its estimate of 24k.

A sidelight to the numerous Caucasian offerings was the appearance of two rugs, an Avar (lot 59, est. 2,900) € and a Shirvan (lot 86, est 9,900 €), each with an exceedingly rare design element described in Richard Wright’s RUGS AND FLATWEAVES OF THE TRANSCAUCASUS as “King Soloman’s throne”. The Avar was formatted like a family saf while the Shirvan’s format was more that of a latent prayer rug. The Shirvan featured a tree on either side of the central ‘throne’ compartment with a serpent entwined around the trunk. The main border was a bit stiff and uninteresting but the interior ‘scorpion’ border was quite good as were the colors. The Avar on the other hand featured soft, typically Avar, colors and what seemed to be a more prototypical version of the design. Hopefully both rugs went to the same bidder but the price discrepancy, 8.000 for the Shirvan versus 2,200 € for the Avar seemed rather odd to this reviewer. In some minds this could have been reversed.

As usual, Turkoman material performed well with most lots selling close to their estimates. The highlight was an archaic Saryk main carpet, nearly square (2.38 X 2.30 m), with ancient Kurbaghe secondary guls and finely articulated tertiary elements estimated at 58k sold for the bargain price of 70,000 € (especially in light of an ETH carbon date that places this artifact fairly solidly into the 17th century). Other lots of note were a very colorful, perfectly spaced “Ersari” main carpet with a plethora of tertiary elements (lot 223, est. 18,000 €) sold for 12,000 € HP (which seemed cheap to this reviewer and an exquisitely drawn “Ersari” engsi with no reserve that pulled 5,100 € despite its tattered and skinned condition.


Turkish rugs, which admittedly lacked the critical mass to bring in international clients, performed decently if not well. The main offering was lot 167, a quite rare 17th century Aksaray estimated at 24,000 €but achieving a price of only 18,000 €. A standard but quite good, Mudjar prayer (lot 104, est. 9,600 €) managed to fetch 8500 €.

Naturally no review should exclude the cover piece, in this case Wertime’s fantastic Shahsevan soumak which garnered a well deserved 18,000 € hp.

Weisbaden itself looked like a perfect winter tale with their annual winter market offering hot drinks such as mull wine and hot cider. Many attendees had to avail themselves of this service to make it back to the airport and train station.

Sarah Haberkern, Art & Antik, Stuttgart

* verbatim from the catalogue: The following nine lot numbers were formerly in the possession of Graf Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg (1875 – 1944). A count and member of one of the most renowned German aristocratic families, Graf von der Schulenburg was a highly decorated officer of the Imperial German Army in the First World War; a liaison officer to the Ottoman Empire, he also received high Turkish honours. The war interrupted his diplomatic career. He joined the Foreign Office in 1901, and became the German consul of Tbilisi in 1911. In 1917 he returned to the diplomatic service; first appointed consul of Beirut and later Damascus, he served as ambassador to Tbilisi from 1918 onwards. From 1922 to 1931 he was the German Envoy to Tehran. As the German ambassador to Moscow, he was obliged to hand the German declaration of war to foreign minister Molotov on 22nd June 1941, destroying his political life work he was an advocate of co-operation with the Soviet Union and had urgently warned Berlin of the immense Russian industrial and military potential. Afterwards he joined the German resistance. Following the attempt on Hitler’s life he was exposed, tried before the People’s Court and excuted in Berlin-Plötzensee in 1944.

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