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Perhaps, given their high profile in just about every other area of the market, it was not so surprising as it first appeared to learn that the big spenders were the interior decorators and designers, one of whom took the day’s top lot.

This was an 18ft 3in by 10ft 2in (5.56 x 3.10m) Smyrna ‘Fancy Turkey’ piece. With some slight wear, small areas of staining and some small holes, this c.1900 work from Western Anatolia was nothing special and rated an £800-1200 estimate. So why did it go at £7000?

Ian Bennett explains: “Fancy Turkey carpets have been in demand for a couple of years among the designer trade. Colour, not quality, is everything and this carpet was of the tomato/orange shade everybody wants at the moment. A better example in a slightly different shade would have fetched a tenth of the price.”

Also in fashionable colours, another such Smyrna ‘Fancy Turkey’ carpet, c. 1900-20, 14ft 4in by 10ft 2in (4.37 x3.10m) with a faded blue design on faded madder background took a triple-estimate £2000.

The designer market, and in particular the New York market for which it seems destined, saw a Khotan carpet from Sinkiang demolish the £200-300 estimate.
The c.1900-1920 14ft 4in by 7ft 1in (4.36 x 2.16m) carpet was so faded that the design had all but disappeared. But the grey ground colour is seemingly what fashionable New Yorkers want and it sold at £2300.

More classical offerings included a c.1900 Heriz carpet, unusually large at 15ft 10in by 11ft 1in (4.82 x 3.38m), which went a little above expectations at £5000, and a mid-19th century Karachov Kazak carpet which would have been an auctioneer’s dream if it had been in anything like good condition. As it was, the 7ft 10in by 5ft 10in (2.39m x 1.78m) piece was “wrecked’, said a sorrowing Ian Bennett who otherwise would have been hoping for
a £20,000-£30,000 bid. Dog stains to one corner, the centre worn to nothing, a tear through the centre and rather badly holed, the carpet was estimated at £100-200.

However, the lustrous wool and rich colour was evidence of its pedigree and Mr Bennett believes that the £2300 bid came from a specialist who knew his market. The carpet, he believes, will be returned to its West Caucasus home to be repaired and reworked. Even at Caucasus rates that will cost another £3000-4000, but restored to its old glory such a carpet will return to the market with a £15,000 price tag.

Woolley & Wallis, Salisbury, January 17
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent