Find the value of vintage textiles

You’ve inherited an old sampler. Or there's that Oriental rug you've been holding onto for years. And that mysterious bolt of vintage fabric that’s been in the back closet since who knows when. Could these various textiles be valuable? Our Savvy Specialists can tell you what they might be worth.

HOW TO FIND THE VALUE OF VINTAGE TEXTILES

Textile collecting is actually a tradition that goes back through time. Before the arrival of power-generated looms and synthetic dyes, textiles were very time-consuming and expensive to produce. The fact that they were included in wills and household inventories indicates how highly valued and preserved they were—notwithstanding the fact that many were first produced for functional purposes: a rug for the hallway, a framed sampler (a sewing teaching device) above the fireplace, or a blanket for the bed.
 
Antique and vintage textiles and fabric run the gamut from 18th-century Middle Eastern silk to 1950s atomic prints; from American colonial quilts to Victorian damask tablecloths to 1970s Marimekko pillow cases. Some 19th-century fabrics that are big among collectors include calico, gingham, muslin, and linen. From the first half of the 20th century, collectors seek cotton, plisse, and cloques.
 
Popular categories of textiles include:

  • Turkish and Persian carpets, usually made of wool, cotton silk and even goat’s hair
  • Genuine Native American—especially Navajo—blankets and rugs.
  • Wool blankets associated with the North American fur trade between Native Americans and Europeans, including the Hudson Bay Company’s “pointed blankets” and Pendleton blankets. While these “Indian trade blankets” feature patterns inspired by Native American designs, they were actually made to be sold to Native Americans!
  • Chenille bedspreads from the 1920s and ‘30s.

 
Value-wise, it’s usually better that a textile be hand-woven. But a mass-produced fabric can be valuable too, especially if a designer name is associated with it. The textile world has its own hall-of-famers like William Morris, Jack Lenor Larsen, Vanessa Bell, Zika Ascher (who supplied cloth to haute couture fashion houses). Then there are painters who gained greater fame by making fabrics their medium, like William Morris and Sonia Delaunay. Other designers, architects and artists who dabbled in textiles include Ray Eames (of furniture fame), Cecil Beaton, Frank Lloyd Wright, Gabriel Dante Rossetti, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Many of them worked for companies, like Liberty of London, Knoll International or the abovementioned Marimekko—and these brands themselves carry a lot of cachet too.


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MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF YOUR VINTAGE TEXTILES

Textiles are subject to dirt, wear, and fading; but unlike some other collectibles, it pays to clean them up—carefully. They can usually be cleaned either by dry or wet methods, but wash by hand or have a professional do it. Holes and other damage can also be repaired by sewing or reweaving—again, by a skilled restorer or conservator. At the very least, vacuum the item, if it’s something sturdy like a rug, tapestry or blanket.

Textiles should be stored in as clean condition as possible. The storage area should be clean, cool, dry, dark, and as free as possible from drastic changes in temperature and humidity. Cottons and linens should have no direct contact with wood, tissue, or other wrapping paper, due to damaging acids. Instead, textiles can be wrapped in clean, white cotton cloth and encased in an unsealed plastic wrapping. Store flat, or rolled: small pieces can be rolled over cloth-covered cardboard tubes for small pieces.

HOW TO FIND A TEXTILE’S VALUE

Once we've identified the age, style, manufacturer/model, and condition of the textile, our Savvy Specialists complete a Quick Appraisal which includes research, stories and special features. We can also tell you more about the specific piece, including a valuation analysis that includes what similar articles have sold for.

SELL VINTAGE TEXTILES ONLINE

StuffSavvy can match you with Online Partners to get you the most value for the textile you'd like to sell. This is a good option once you know the value you want to sell the item for.

FIND PLACES TO SELL VINTAGE TEXTILES NEAR ME

StuffSavvy can also match you with local consignment shops and auction houses. This is the best option if you want to work with additional Specialists to maximize the resale value of your vintage textiles.