Friday, January 30, 2009

Goodacre Moves to Dockray Hall trading estate

Carpet firm on the move

8:10am Friday 30th January 2009

SOUTH Lakeland carpet retailer Goodacre is to move from its Aynam Road factory shop in Kendal to new premises on the Dockray Hall trading estate.

Company boss Mike Cornish said the relocation would show customers that Goodacre had “moved on” from its past.

The business, which once manufactured carpets and in its heyday employed 150 people, was bought by Mr Cornish after going into administration several years ago.

The new premises will provide more room for the firm’s specialist range of oriental rugs.

Carpet firm on the move Carpet firm on the move

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SKINNER Bolton is Moving to Marlborough, MA

SKINNER Bolton is Moving
to Marlborough, MA

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Address:
Skinner, Inc.
274 Cedar Hill Street
Marlborough, MA 01752
tel: 508.970.3000 fax: 508.970.3100

Skinner's Boston Gallery remains at 63 Park Plaza, Boston, MA

If you have questions regarding property pick-ups, please contact Skinner
in advance at 978.779.6241

Friday, January 23, 2009

Karagheusian's Gulistan Rugs

Memories of A. & M. Karagheusian

by Jack Ayvadian

Published: Friday January 23, 2009 in The Armenian-American Experience

The Gulistan label on the back of a vintage Karagheusian rug. The showroom on New York's posh Fifth Avenue was designed by Tiffany Studios.
A. & M. Karagheusian
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Freehold, N.J. - The name sounds like an Armenian college. Actually it belonged to the brothers Arshag and Miran (Mihran). Long before the Manoogians, Kerkorians, and Cafesjians practiced their philanthropy, the Karagheusian brothers served as president and treasurer of the Armenian General Benevolent Union.

In Turkey the Karagheusians' rug trade goes back to 1818. As the 19th century drew to a close the brothers fled the persecution which culminated in the Armenian Genocide. In 1896 they opened a small office in Manchester, England, to export cotton cloth to the Middle East.

Sensing the enormous potential of the American market, the Karagheusians set up a one-room office in New York City to import English cotton goods. However, they could not compete with American mills, which were producing cotton cloth of equal quality at lower cost. The brothers tried other short-lived ventures, such as importing mocha coffee and canary seed from Arabia.

In 1899 the brothers tried importing oriental rugs from Persia, which turned out to be a profitable venture. Their Fifth Avenue showroom was designed by Tiffany Studios. The next step was to manufacture their own orientals in America.

Freehold, New Jersey, a farm town rich in Revolutionary War history, was the chosen site. Here General George Washington had turned his retreating troops around and had chased the British back to New York.
The House of Lords

In 1904 the Karagheusians took over the former Rothschild shirt factory and drew up a contract with the townspeople. Freehold would pay the taxes for five years, and in several years' time the company would employ upward of 500 workers, most of them locals.

The brothers purchased power looms from Kidderminster, England, the center of the carpet industry. They also imported the first weavers and their families. With a part of England transplanted to Freehold, one wing of the plant was called "The House of Lords." A large spinning mill was built in Roselle Park, New Jersey.

In 1928 the Karagheusians developed a secret chemical process to add a soft sheen to their rugs, emulating the hand-knotted orientals from the Middle East. "Gulistan" ("Garden of Roses"), the brand name of this new rug, would be applied to all products and, eventually, the company itself.

High demand for the Gulistan rug in the Art Deco period called for tripling the size of the plant. More weavers, some scarred by World War I, were imported from England, bringing their frugal habits with them. Some chewed tobacco while operating the loom and before quitting time would place the wad on the window sill to dry in the sun. On the way home, they would put it in their pipe and smoke it. Double your pleasure?
Nationalized industry

The company's mill in Tientsin (Tianjin), China, built in 1923, became the world's largest producer of handmade Chinese rugs, employing 4,000 weavers. The Japanese seized it shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After Japan surrendered, the Chinese Communists overran Tientsin. The company was never able to regain its nationalized property.

World War Two brought drastic changes to domestic operations as well. As part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Arsenal of Democracy," the company converted its looms to produce millions of yards of duck cloth, thousands of gun covers, tarpaulin, and machine parts for the Navy. Five hundred employees served in the military. A plane spotter's station was built on the fifth-floor roof and staffed by volunteers until the end of the Korean War.

Coming home from World War Two after three years with the Navy Sea Bees, I answered Karagheusian's call for "help wanted." After passing a color test, I spent a week practicing knot-tying. I started as a creeler tying in bobbins. If you tied a slip knot, the weaver might throw a bobbin at your head. Next I became a sparehand, tying in large beams of cotton or jute. Because I could type, I helped in the office.

As more veterans returned and the demand for housing increased, the expression "wall-to-wall carpet" came into use. New looms, twelve and fifteen feet wide, were installed in the greatly expanded plant, tended by 2,000 workers around the clock.
Fala's favorite corner

The company was a leading manufacturer of commercial carpet. Topping the list was a 20,000-square-yard order for Radio City Music Hall in 1932. Designing the fiddle pattern took six weeks. Very strict specs called for a 36-inch width, ten rows to the inch, and a cut pile over one inch deep. Years later, when a replacement was ordered, an estimated 55 million people had walked on the original installation.

Actress Jean Harlow sent a lock of her platinum hair so her carpet could be matched to it. Another order was filled for the actor Spencer Tracy.

The company carpeted the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., and Pullman railroad cars, including F.D.R.'s private coach. A framed section of that carpet, labeled "Fala's favorite corner" after the President's beloved dog, was hung in the entrance to the Freehold plant.

Five miles of carpet were made for the new 45-story Socony-Mobil building in 1956. Two years later the company was awarded the order for the new Boeing 707 jets, again with tight specs as to weight and acoustical qualities. For safety purposes, a thin wire was wrapped with every fourth row of yarn.

In 1958, nine thousand square yards of carpet was ordered for the new Moore-McCormack luxury liners, the S.S. Brasil and Argentina.
The Revered Boss

Meanwhile, the South was wooing northern mills with modern, one-story plants, the proximity of the cotton fields, and, most of all, no unions. In 1952, the company acquired a tufting plant in Albany, Georgia. Five years later, another plant was purchased in Aberdeen, North Carolina.

Despite denials, the Freehold workers were getting the message. They said this would not have happened if the Karagheusians were still around. They spoke of the brothers with reverence, remembering the Depression years, when the company sent coal trucks to workers' homes.

In 1953 I was promoted to assistant foreman, then foreman of the Narrow Jacquard department, which operated about a hundred looms. It was so loud that light bulbs were placed on the walls, blinking signals as a way to page the workers.

The rug mill was closed in 1961. Four years later, the company was sold to J. P. Stevens.

The freight trains and trucks carrying Gulistan rugs to all corners of the country have long since vanished over Freehold's horizon. The looms lost their voice many years ago. As native son Bruce Springsteen sang in "My Hometown":

They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going, boys, and they ain't coming back

It's been 47 years since I saw that blinking bulb. I still miss that place. Thank you, brothers, for 14 great years.

Further reading:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Noted Rug Collector Dies Edmund de Rothschild

Edmund de Rothschild dies at 93

Isfahan Rugs: Isphahan Carpet ex Edmond de Rothschild

By ROBERT BARR, Associated Press Writer Robert Barr, Associated Press Writer Wed Jan 21, 10:30 am ET

LONDON – Edmund de Rothschild, former chairman of N.M. Rothschild and Sons merchant bank and a noted horticulturist, has died at age 93.
De Rothschild died on Jan. 17 at his home, Exbury House, in Hampshire, England, the family said. The cause of death was not announced.
He joined the family bank in London in 1939 and directed its operations after his uncle Anthony suffered a stroke in 1955. He was named senior partner in 1960 and elevated to chairman in 1970.
De Rothschild oversaw the family firm's evolution to a modern institution, ending its private partnership status in 1970. He served as chairman until 1975.
He has been described as being "a banker by hobby and a gardener by profession," like his father.
However, de Rothschild was closely involved in postwar reconstruction in Japan, and received that country's Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class). He also took a personal role in raising funds for a large hydroelectric power station at Churchill Falls Canada.
De Rothschild restored Exbury Gardens, a 260-acre (105-hectare) woodland garden which had been neglected after the death of his father, Lionel, in 1942. The gardens were opened to the public in 1955.
De Rothschild developed the Solent Range of Exbury deciduous azaleas, and produced several dozen rhododendron hybrids. He received the Victorian Medal of Honor, the highest award of the Royal Horticultural Society.
In his autobiography, "A Gilt-Edged Life," de Rothschild recalled that he was sometimes a target of anti-Semitism while he was in school.
He also related how his father was offended by a friend from Cambridge University who visited the family home and spoke glowingly of his visit to Nazi Germany.
The father wrote to the visitor's mother saying, "Your son comes to stay in my house, shoots my pheasants, drinks my champagne, smokes my cigars and tells me there is a lot to be said for Hitler."
Edmund de Rothschild is survived by two sons and two daughters from his marriage to Elizabeth Lentner, who died in 1980; and by his second wife, Anne Harrison.
The family planned a private funeral.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Important New Research on Yellow Dyes

Contact: Ann Marie Menting or Cory Hatch
Boston University

Boston University chemists probe secrets in ancient textile dyes from China, Peru

Chemists journey to Gobi region for samples, discover novel dye in textiles from Peru

(Boston) -- Although searching for 3,000-year-old mummy textiles in tombs under the blazing sun of a western Chinese desert may seem more Indiana Jones than analytical chemist, two Boston University researchers recently did just that. Traveling along the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang Province on their quest, they found the ancient fabrics – and hit upon a research adventure that combined chemistry, archaeology, anthropology, botany, and art.

The chemists, Richard Laursen, a professor in the Boston University Department of Chemistry, and Xian Zhang, a chemistry graduate student, have refined a technique that helps archaeologists and anthropologists identify the plant species that ancient people used to make fabric dyes. Their technique has not only provided researchers with a new, more powerful tool for analyzing previously known dye types, it also has led to the discovery of at least one never-before described dye. In addition, the BU chemists have started a catalogue of plant sample characteristics for use by dye researchers around the world.

Historically, researchers have used a hydrochloric acid mixture to extract the delicate dyes from fabrics such as wool and silk. But, according to Laursen, hydrochloric acid cleaves glycosidic linkages, the bonds that hold sugar-like molecules to many dye molecules. Without these sugars, researchers lose valuable clues to which plants were used to give the dyes their color.

Keeping these clues intact is especially important when analyzing yellow, flavonoid dyes, not only because such dyes are chemically more delicate than red or blue dyes, but also because they can be derived from a greater variety of different plant sources -- from onion skins to pagoda tree buds.

Laursen and Zhang tested dye extraction methods using both ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and formic acid instead of hydrochloric acid. These "gentler" extraction solutions leave the glycosidic linkages in place. The chemists analyzed the dye extracts using a combination of high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and a diode array detector to determine their solubility properties, molecular weight, and exact color absorption in nanometers.

The researchers have already put their new method to the test, even discovering a new type of dye component, a flavonoid sulfate, in textiles found with 1,000-year-old mummies in Peru.

"Nobody could have seen the flavonoid sulfate with the old method," says Laursen. "Every time we analyze something we find something new. It's really kind of exciting."

On a recent trip to China, Laursen and Zhang obtained textile samples from yet another mummy. The chemists were attending a Getty Conservation Institute-sponsored conference at Dunhuang, a town at the edge of the Gobi Desert. A site near the town is honeycombed with caves containing ancient Buddhist art. While at the conference, the BU chemists joined an expedition into the Takla Makan (the name means, "You go in, but you don't come out.") desert. Chinese researchers found the fabric at a Takla Makan burial site, and Zhang, a native of China, convinced a Chinese archaeologist to give her tiny samples of the 3,000-year-old cloth.

According to Laursen, the fabric, and the person entombed with it, are of Indo-European origin, probably linked to ancient migrations west through Central Asia. He plans a trip this spring to collect plants from Central Asia and nearby countries like Turkey, Iran, and Uzbekistan for a chemical comparison with the fabric's dye to find out more about the mummy's origin.

"The people in the area have a long tradition of making carpets and textiles," says Laursen, "there is very little known about what plants were used to dye them. We hope to fill this void by collecting as much plant material as we can."

The plant samples he collects will join hundreds of others in a dye "fingerprint" database that the BU scientists are creating for use by researchers around the globe.

"You get a characteristic spectrum of dye components," Laursen explains. "If we had this library, maybe we could figure out what was used in our Chinese samples. That type of information would be of use to archaeologists and anthropologists who are trying to figure out migration patterns and technologies of ancient people."

The researchers' paper appears in the April 1 issue of Analytical Chemistry. Laursen and Zhang are scientists in Boston University's Department of Chemistry, part of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Researchers in the Department of Chemistry investigate questions in theoretical chemistry, chemical physics, photochemistry, inorganic and organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry. Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the nation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bulgaria’s Magic Carpets

Bulgaria’s Magic Carpets

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bulgarian kilims

bulgarian kilims

Bulgaria has a long history when it comes to carpet weaving. The art of making colourful, yet practical carpets began long before the Ottoman Turks invaded and conquered the country. Today, the tradition of crafting unique, quality carpets by hand continues in some of the country’s most far flung villages. Yet it is no longer an industry confined to supplying local villagers with flooring; Bulgarian carpets are now exported all over the world.
The durability of a real Bulgarian carpet is quite incredible and they are said to last a lifetime even if they are on floors with high traffic. Some carpets though are used purely for decoration as wall hangings because their colourful intricate designs, each with their own meaning are sometimes too beautiful to use for the purpose for which they were intended. Bulgarian carpets are still made from either goat’s or sheep’s wool, with sheep’s wool being the material most favoured by weavers because of its softness. In terms of techniques very little has changed in the way the carpets are made now compared to 500 years ago; possibly the biggest change is the type of dye used. Whereas the wool used to be dyed with vegetable dyes, today synthetic colouring is used.

Jeravna Carpets

a traditional loom

a traditional loom

In this tiny little village in the central part of the eastern Balkan Range, local women craft works of art on old looms in their homes. The carpets or kilims as they are called in the carpet trade are extremely cheap to buy when you consider the workmanship that goes into them. They are made to many different designs and décor and it is even possible to specify your own style. The first Jeravna carpet was made in around 1780 and today the oldest kilim available from this region hangs in Sofia’s National History Museum. It was made by Ergen Noniovitsa in 1820 and it is now classed as a national work of art. Jervana carpets contain a variety of different designs but broadly they fall into two categories; geometrical motifs and natural floral designs. Each design has a special meaning which has been passed down from generation to generation over many years. Some of the most popular designs include the “Tree of Life,” which symbolizes rebirth and longevity. “Horns of Animals” is a design signifying power. “Hands on Hips” is the design most associated with the Mother of God and fertility. The “Hanging Candle” is a design synonymous with the light of God and eternity.


chiprovtsi kilim

chiprovtsi kilim

Chiprovtsi is a small town in the north west of the country close to the border with Serbia. For many it is seen as the birthplace of the Bulgarian carpet and the carpet making industry remains one of the town’s main industries. Carpets are designed to original patterns and to customers own specifications. It takes around 50 days for the craftsman to complete a kilim of around 3 m × 4 m. Chiprovtsi carpets have received international acclaim having been exhibited all over Europe including at exhibitions in Paris and London. Weaving has been passed through generations and there are many traditions associated with weaving; a long time ago, when a rug was completed the waver’s daughter or granddaughter used to lie in the carpet and family members gently rocked her from side to side in it to make sure that the girl would grow up to be a good carpet weaver like her ancestors.
Chiprovtsi carpets differ from other region’s carpets in that they are usually always made from wool are made from wool and are intertwined on both sides. They are made on small looms called stans. The designs are colourful and geometric, with a contemporary style. The Karakachka, or “Black-eyed Bride” is the most popular pattern from this area; the pattern was conceived in the 18th century and it is a red-on-black or black-on-red design, which allegedly looks a lot like a girl carrying two buckets of water. There are many other common Chiprovtsi designs like “the Chickens”, “The Vines” and “The Flower Pots.” These natural designs are said to represent natures gifts to man.

Rhodope Mountain Carpets

Carpets made in the Rhodope Mountains are not nearly as popular as those made in other parts of Bulgaria, however they are extremely warm and often used as blankets rather than carpets. They are usually made from goat’s wool and are natural in colour. In days gone by they were used for warmth by revolutionaries who camped in the mountains hiding from the Ottoman Turks.


a kotel chergi

a kotel chergi

Kotel, the museum town in central Bulgaria is world famous for its handcrafted carpets. Carpet production here is believed to go back far beyond that of any other region in the country and has its own weaving school. Kotel carpets are made on vertical looms and it usually takes around three months to weave one carpet. Its Chergi are particularly renowned. They are colourfully striped long, thin rugs that are used as runners. Sometimes they are sewn together to make a bigger carpet. Other styles, which are popular, are Guberi, which are the tufted rugs and Postelki, which are used as blankets. Kotel carpets are famous for the fact that they are usually only made from four colours, blue, black, red and green. They often contain diamond patterns, which symbolize the moon, stars and sun. Other designs are constructed from triangles. They represent images like the fight between good and evil. The most famous designs are “The Trays” and “The Crosses.” Carpets made with the trays design was made when the weaver had their first child, whilst a carpet with the crosses design was given as a Christening gift for the weaver’s grandchild.
Kotel carpets are sold all over the world and many say that they are as good as a Persian carpet. The carpets can be purchased from the weavers in the town and different designscan be seen at the local Carpet Museum, which is housed in the Galata School.
Last Updated ( Monday, 19 January 2009 10:30 )

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Victoria's Parlour Antiques

Victoria's Parlour Antiques

Belleair Bluffs business owner grew up in the rug business

By Christina K. Cosdon, Times Correspondent
In Print: Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pat France’s rug collection includes more than 200 rugs from all around the world, some of which are a century old.
Pat France’s rug collection includes more than 200 rugs from all around the world, some of which are a century old.

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Jewelry, glass and pottery, lamps, paintings, wall hangings and bric-a-brac crowd the aisles and walls of Victoria's Parlour Antiques. But the heart of the business is a back room jammed with a jumble of Oriental rugs, some standing upright in rolls, others on open stacks. The only way to see the sizes, shapes, colors and designs of the rugs is to thumb through books featuring them in more than 200 photographs.

Pat France grew up in the rug business and has spent a lifetime developing an eye and taste for them. Her collection represents every major rug-making area in the world, she says. Some are a century old.

"I have a lot of Persian rugs, some Turkish, Armenian, some Chinese," she said. Styles range from art deco to traditional and modern.

When France was a child, her playground was a store filled with more than a thousand wool and silk rugs from around the world — Paulson & Co., a family business in Swarthmore, Pa., established by her grandfather in 1914.

From age 4, she played on the store's rugs, watched them being cleaned and saw them displayed for customers.

On family outings to museums with her brother and sister, "we would always play a game," she recalled. "Whatever was on the walls — paintings or rugs — we would have to describe why we liked it, whether it was the beauty of the colors, the clarity of the design or something about it that caught our senses."

Seeking a warmer climate, Wesley and Dorothy France left their hometown of Swarthmore in 1957, moved to Largo with their three children and started France Rugs.

At the time, Pat France was 8 years old and entered Mildred Helms Elementary School.

She worked summers in the family store as a teenager and after graduating from Florida Southern College in 1971, she joined the business.

When she turned 20, her uncle, Paul Paulson, invited her on a buying and selling trip to New York City. The only room for her was in the back of the truck on top of rugs.

It's one of her fondest memories.

"It was the neatest experience," she said. "We would stop at a dozen places a day. I got to go into all the showrooms and warehouses and see how different people do business."

She also learned the art of rug repair and reweaving. Her teacher was award-winning artist Mildred "Muggsy" Kelso, who learned her craft at the Philadelphia Institute of Art.

When her parents retired in 1984, some of the rugs went to the family store in Swarthmore and Pat France took some when she started her own business that same year in Antique Alley in Belleair Bluffs.

"For years, I had customers that I inherited from my parents," she said. "I've always liked the challenge of finding things for people. I brought paintings and jewelry for one customer, then her kids and now her grandkids."

With the changing economy, her buying has become more selective.

"I used to buy everything under the sun. Now I'm much more particular, much more critical," she said.

"I buy as high quality as I can or something that's really unique. Things have to have something extra to sell these days. Usual isn't going to cut it."

Chris Cosdon can be reached at

Victoria's Parlour Antiques

Where: 568 N Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

For more information: Call (727) 581-0519.