Buying a Navajo Textile

Be realistic in your price expectations Large rugs and other textiles take several months or even a year to weave.  How much do you make in four months?  A rug measuring 4’ by 6’ by a top weaver like Jennie Slick will take about 240 hours to weave and will sell for $2400 if you buy it directly from Jennie.  A trading post might sell the same rug for $3000 to $4800.  This where looking at a piece on price per square foot basis can help.  Jennie sells her rugs at $100 to $150 per square foot depending on the yarns that she uses.  If she made and sold three rugs at her top price in a year, she’d still only be making around $10,000 from her weaving,  Two Grey Hills are the most expensive, followed by Teec Nos Pos, and Ganado Red.  Expect to pay a premium for rugs by well known weavers, whose work may command

Choose a reputable dealer or deal directly with the weaver. Dealing directly with a weaver is becoming easier as more people move to urban areas and participate in market situation, but for every weaver who is able to market their pieces this way, there are hundreds who can’t.   Dealing directly with many of the weavers still living on the reservation is difficult.  Many homes on the reservation are remote, and unless you’ve got a truck, a four wheeler, or a horse, you may be facing some tough driving.  In addition, 70% of the homes don’t have phones, many weavers don’t speak English readily, and they have no ready stock of rugs, generally, to sell you.  Weaving on commission is becoming more common, but only for top weavers.   The accepted system of the weaver bringing the rug to market still allows the weaver ultimate personal independence.  It’s up to the weaver.  Dealers who are reputable attract rugs from good weavers because they pay the weaver a fair price for her work.

Check the links on our right sidebar for weavers who deal directly with clients do commission work and for dealers who are reputable.  These links are also great places to learn more about weavers and weaving.  Many of them have beautiful pictures and are updated often with news and new work.  If you are a weaver or dealer who would like to be included on our list please let us know. There’s no charge to be included on our lists and they are purely informational.  We don’t take any money for these listings and we never will.  We might have a t-shirt or a coffee mug that came from some of these weavers and traders, but that’s about it.  If you’re looking for rugs on Ebay, you can depend on these for sellers for absolute integrity and authenticity.

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If you can make a decision in a hurry, nothing beats a rug auction for building up a rug collection.  The granddaddy of these is one Friday of every month (sometimes the second, sometimes the third) in Crownpoint, NM.  The auction is held in the school gym, and the weavers start bringing in the rugs about 2 PM.   There are usually about 250 to 300 rugs in the auction, which starts at 7.  Although the rugs are in numbered lots, the lots are offered up in no particular order.  If you are interested in a rug, you’ll just have to wait until it comes up.  Bring some coffee.  If the rug doesn’t fetch the weaver’s minimum price, she can and will refuse to sell it.  The Hubbell Trading Posts also holds auctions twice a year.  See the Events page for information on auctions.  At auction, prices can be as low as $35 to $50 per square foot, but they do go higher.  I usually advise people not to buy a piece that they have not previewed unless they know the weaver’s work.

Keep records of your collection. Knowing where  and from whom you bought a piecehelps to enhance the value of your collection and protects your investment, especially if you collect or a long period of time.  Your records can also help you to recover your rugs if they’re stolen or establish value if they’re damaged.

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1 Comment

  1. David Ott on September 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Hello Navajo Rug Dealers:

    I am interested in knowing more about a 1920’s era Navajo rug that I have acquired & would like to know if anyone can give me an accurate market value.
    Any information would be helpful. Some of the design is unusual.
    Thanks

    David Ott
    Ott To Recover
    203 N. Main St.
    Monticello, WI 53570



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