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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2004 11:53 am 
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with regards to getting some idea or appraisal of some of these textiles' age, value and worthiness, i just wondering where and who does that since there seems to be a passion to either keep the traditions or the treasure. I like the art and creativity part of some newer textiles or collection, but there if there is a desire to collect, people would prefer the older and unrepeatable ones. some of us are in the buying, marketing and selling of it, from where can we understand pricing? Tongzhi


Tongzhi posted the very interesting question above - which in essence may be summarised by his last 'from where can we understand pricing?'on a thread on the General Forum which I thought would make a good topic on its own on this forum.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2004 9:30 pm 
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Tongzhi

Just to set the scene on my comments: I am not a trader. I am an economist by training and I am involved in marketing in my job. On a personal level I am a collector of traditional textiles.

When it comes to pricing textiles there are many things to consider. There are your basic costs - the cost of the item when you purchased it, costs of acquiring it and your fixed costs. So, a dealer in an expensive location will need to have a large turnover or a higher profit margin. However, there will be no sale unless the quality of the textile is good. The more you know about your textiles and can pass this on to the purchaser the more you add value to them. The sales you are able to achieve will also depend on how much your purchasers trust you - your knowlege and being clear about the quality of items you are sellling.

Yes, many collectors are interested in old items. However, this is not true of all collectors. Personal likes and dislikes will also influence the collector. It also depends whether the item is being bought for a collection, to display, to wear or...... People will often pay more for a textile for one use than they may for another. Some collectors are interested in collecting a group of texiles showing the development of textile production over time.

Scarcity of the item also can also put a premium on the price - but only if it is something that people actually want.

Other factors can influence price. In Thailand there is quite an interest in Li textiles because the Li are part of the Daic group of peoples to which the Thai also belong. There is a sense of collecting their own heritage. This has tended to push up prices.

Fashions. There are fashions in textiles as in anything else. This can affect the price.

However, I think that one of the most important things influencing what people will pay for a textile is the sheer quality of the textile and (if old) its condition.

How do you learn about the 'market value' of a textile? Looking on the web, looking at the inventory of other dealers and galleries. Learning by trial and error. A texile sells very quickly - perhaps it was at a very good price from the purchaser's perspective. You can't sell something. Well it may just not be attractive or what the people who have seen it want - or it just may be too expensive.

It can also depend on the actual amount of money needed to buy an item. It may be beautiful, rare, what someone wants but it may be more money than they are able to afford to pay at that time.

How do you judge the age of a textile? This will depend on several things. The style of the textile may indicate roughly the period when it was made. Is the fabric made for hand spun thread? Is it hand or machine woven? Is the dye natural or chemical? Was the colour an early chemical dye? However, it will also depend on where the textile was made. If the location was very remote then it may be more recent as the person who made it may be very little affected by outside influences. How the item has been stored, whether it has been worn very much - all of these things will affect the condition of the textile aside from its age.

The more textiles that you see and handle, the more reference books you find to help you identify items the more you expert you will become. If you visit villages where the textiles have been made try to talk to the older women. Ask when they made a textile. If you are interested you will find that you continue to learn every day. I hope that this forum helps all of us to get better at assessing identity, styles and age.

The last point that I would make is that the 'right price' is one with which both the seller and the buyer feel comfortable. For you, as a seller, a satisfied purchaser is one who comes back to buy again and also recommends you to others.

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 Post subject: remoteness
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 4:02 am 
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Pamela,

I'm almost embarrassed to add anything to your incredible summation. Save for one comment: remoteness, and/or assessability. For example, Burma has been opened up to tourism only recently; as a result, we're seeing tribal textiles from there finally cropping up on the world market. I think prices for tribal textiles from that region (and including the eastern borderlands of both India and Bangladesh) will probably be in flux for quite some time, until an accurate assessment of both the origin and technical skill can be made.

Also, we're now seeing minority textiles from China. Their value is probably mitigated by assessability, variety, and amount available for purchase on the world market.

Also, I worry that the immense productivity and skill found in newer textiles from Thailand are being overlooked for mediocre ones, contemporary or older cloths, from Laos. Unfortunately, many older Lao textiles are already in private hands, and the newer cloths lack the originality and vitality of those found in Thailand.

Sandie


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 1:39 am 
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thanks pam, i was traveling and got busy with other projects. your comments are pretty practical and helpful. i have been reading them though have not responded earlier. thanks heap. hope to get more input including those who does sell whether retail or supplier. just wondering who on our list are sellers and who are collectors? anyway, i am selling and supplying though i enjoy collecting or should i say just keeping them for a while.
anyway with the old embroidery strips from bai, yi and miao collecting, i have turned them into waist belts, see picture. anyone interested, i am selling them at US$28 each. alternatively can view my webpage for more products samples. I can customise other products using the embroideries. :D


Attachments:
File comment: This piece also stretches to about 2 metre length. It uses 3 cotton cloth strips.
WaistBelt1.jpg
WaistBelt1.jpg [ 52.72 KiB | Viewed 5751 times ]
File comment: The total length is about 2 metre long. Embroidery is sewn on raw line cloth.
WaistBelt4.jpg
WaistBelt4.jpg [ 57.31 KiB | Viewed 5751 times ]

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 Post subject: valuation of textiles
PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:33 am 
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refering to sandie's note on pricing; "until an accurate assessment of both the origin and technical skill can be made". just wondering normally who does these things and tries to regulate the price? museum or textiles society or associations or who? who takes the time to ascertain the technical skills?
i always thought it is also influenced by market demands of collectors and sellers.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2005 10:25 pm 
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Far be it for me to talk for Sandie (I wouldn't dare!) but I think that she was referring to research taking place, articles/books being written all of which would be in different ways making an assessment of the textiles much as Michael C Howard, Mattiebelle Gittinger and Patricia Cheesman have done in their books. So it might be an academic perhaps in anthropology or ethnography who writes based on reading academic literature and research in the field or an expert on textiles who has developed their expertise by seeing textiles, collecting textiles, researching in the field, reading available literature both current and earlier and perhaps actually working with those executing the textiles.

You say 'who takes the time to ascertain the technical skills?' Well, I certainly do. I do it every time I look/feel/assess a textile. For me it is both subconscious, instinctive and it will also be part of my decision making process when I purchase a textile. Of course, pure technique alone is not enough, it needs to be well designed and attractive to the eye. Scarcity will also affect price but a glut of a textile can never completely diminish the admiration for superb technical execution.

In order to be able to assess technique you need experience of seeing several textiles. It also helps to understand how the textile technique has been executed. The more you know and understand the more likely it is that you will value the skills and be better able to judge the relative quality of similar textiles. I have been working with textiles all my life - never to earn money but certainly making clothes rather than buying and also making textiles for pleasure and challenge. I have experimented with quite a few techniques as well as developed reasonably advanced skills in some. All of this makes me appreciate what others do even more and instintively look at a textile seeking to understand exactly how it has been made.

I am planning to learn to weave when I retire from earning my living. I have worked a little on a couple of looms but never really learnt to weave cloth. The reason I want to learn to weave is not because I want to make lots of cloth but because I want to better understand weaving techniques in the textiles that I admire such as the Li.

I don't think that in the case of textiles anyone 'regulates' the price. They may try and encourage prices to rise by 'talking them up'. Yes, prices will be determined by supply and demand. However, this is too simplistic. What makes a textile in demand? Not only demand in the sense of shortage or plenty. There may only be one of a kind of textile but if it is ugly or poorly made it is not likely to attract much demand. 'Quality' will also influence demand. The finer the textile the more it will be in demand and the higher the price that may be attained.

There are all sorts of nuances as to supply and demand - nothing is completely straight forward. Personal taste and preferences are also factors.

In all of this nothing can replace experience and just seeing lots and lots of textiles and thus developing an 'eye' for textiles. I must say that since the forum has come into being I have learnt such a lot. This is from what people have posted. It is from researching in books. It is also from looking even more closely at my own collection of textiles guided by comments and questions posted on the forum. The stimulus of you all has made such a difference to my own experience level. We can learn a lot by ourselves but sharing what we know and perhaps even more important what we don't know i.e. our mystery textiles is such a stimulus for knowledge.

I seem to be getting rather carried away here and had better shut up!!

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