Antique Detective Collectible Hook Rugs Can Be Costly

hooked-rugs-dogsBy Anne Gilbert

I know you love your dog or cat, but could they be sleeping on a hooked rug worth several hundred dollars? Is such a rug where you wipe your feet when you come in the front door?

These days, even with repairs, an antique pictorial hooked rug can fetch several thousand dollars at auction; more from a specialty dealer. Even vintage hooked rugs are like money in the bank.

Historically, the technique of hooking rugs can be first traced to the northeastern section of New England, in Maine and Vermont. From there it spread to nearby areas of Canada. By the end of the 18th century they were also made in England, Scotland and France.

Like quilt-making, hooking rugs was often a family or community activity, during long winter evenings. Not only women but sailors hooked rugs with a diversity of subjects.

hooked-rug-houseCollectors search for pre-Civil War examples that depict commemorative designs or historical events and people. After the Civil War, patterns were available printed on burlap. When E.S. Frost offered mass-produced hook rug patterns, it marked the beginning of the end of their charming naïve quality.

CLUES: The age of a rug can be identified by the techniques used and the subjects. The earliest were yarn sewn. The term “hooked” came from the use of a metal hook that was used to pull the yarn into loops, through homespun linen, burlap or factory-woven cotton. As with quilting, leftover woolens or scraps were cut into strips.

Since floral, animal and other patterns are still available today in kits, before spending too much money, examine the rug carefully for the materials used and the almost primitive look of the art. 20th century Vintage examples can sell for over a thousand dollars, in a retail setting. The price depends on the subject.

That many early rugs have survived, in good condition, is related to what was used for their backing. Linen and hemp sacking outlasted burlap.

Considered a “find” would be a rug identified from a specific area by its’ style, or maker.

Many collectors hang them as wall art. You can still find great examples at flea markets and garage sales at affordable prices if you have done your research.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (1) Dog and pup hooked rug, Vintage. (2) House portrait hooked from a stamped pattern Turn of Century. PHOTO CREDIT: laurafisher shop/rugs

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