The capacity of man to invent and create even in times of distress is truly amazing, in fact, this is how the antique hooked rug was born; from the hands of women who wanted to discover beauty and made extraordinary carpets out of ordinary rags. In those times they were used primarily to decorate humble homes of numerous families with hard-working parents and lots of children. Today they can be found even in the most select houses, as they represent the imagination, skill and craftsmanship of the grassroots American people.
The story of the antique hooked rug starts somewhere at the beginning of the 1800’s, in North America, some say that it was in Maine, out of the desire velcro manufacturers of women to save money as times were rough, but at the same time to spend their little spare time doing something useful and beautiful. They started to collect strips of disused rags, sturdy yarns or whatever textile material seemed suitable for creating a carpet which could warm the winter freezing floors. The timing couldn’t be better as in the middle of the century, some trade restrictions were abolished so there was a myriad of burlap sacks used to transport all kinds of merchandise like tea, corn, wheat or coffee. This burlap cloth could be easily torn into thin strips that could later be pulled through the back of a large piece of burlap, in order to make tiny loops.
In the beginning there were no patterns or specific designs so women hooked what they saw; animals, flowers, geometric shapes, sometimes even patriotic themes, nonetheless, the result was amazing. These improvisations quickly developed into a form of art, where the only materials needed for the hooked rug were a frame made of four boards and a hook which could be a bent nail or a wooden crochet, sometimes even whale bones which could penetrate the cloth and pull or push the strings.
By the end of the century this newborn art seemed to have had a very short life as factory-made carpets became ever more popular, however the 20’s and 30’s saw a revival of this folk way of expression. The majority of the so very fashionable clothes in pale tones which were all the rage at the turn of the century ended up a few decades later in exquisitely designed folk hooked rugs. Again, the timing couldn’t be better as the Depression era started to leave marks on the financial possibilities of middle-class families and these cheap but gorgeous hooked rugs were the perfect compromise.
The antique hooked rug is now revered as a slice of American history and because of it’s charm and vintage aspect, is worth much more than their creators could ever dream of. These pieces of art which were derived from poverty and necessity are sold along with other antiquities at high prices. Time has proved that they are also durable and sturdy, however, there are few chances that you will ever find an antique hooked rug laid on the floor in the 21st century as their value demands that you will most certainly find them hanging on the wall.