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About Con & Verdonck

A Brief History of a Dutch Institution

The Dream of a Banker and a Carpet Merchant

Con & Verdonck b.v. was established in 1933 as the realisation of a dream that had long been discussed and planned by its two founders - the knowledgeable Oriental carpet merchant Mr Verdonck and his most important client, the highly successful Amsterdam banker Mr J. M. Con.

The visionary aspect of the new company's mission - to become the single dominant retail suppliers of the finest hand-knotted Persian and Oriental carpets throughout The Netherlands - has been generally accredited to the late Mr Con, whose high achievements and exceptional reputation in the banking field had often derived from a similar ability to see 'the big picture'. Mr Con also brought the enthusiasm of the avid Oriental carpet collector to the enterprise, although he was always the first to acknowledge that the value and significance of his renowned private collection was largely attributable to the taste and expertise of Mr Verdonck, from whom he had first acquired the vast majority of his finest examples.

Carpets from the Orient by J.M. Con

Illustrated left and right

The English and Dutch first editions - published in 1966 and 1964 respectively - of the well-known book on Oriental carpets by J.M. Con, co- founder of Con & Verdonck

Oosterse Tapijten by J.M. Con

The early years of Con & Verdonck were increasingly overshadowed by the impending threat of war, and when Holland was occupied by the Nazis, Mr Con - being of the Jewish faith - was forced to go underground, and leave the running of the business entirely in the hands of his partner. Fortunately he managed to survive that terrible time, and with his return to the company in 1945, Con & Verdonck entered upon its most spectacular era of success.

The firm's primary objective of establishing a chain of specialist Oriental carpet stores throughout the main shopping centres of The Netherlands was soon realised, much to the surprise of its less ambitious competitors, with nine major outlets eventually coming to dominate the entire Dutch market. In this way, the two founders achieved what had previously been regarded as an impossible dream - Con & Verdonck became as much a household name throughout Holland as any of the leading department stores, and such familiarity served to promote Oriental carpets as a necessity of the well-furnished Dutch interior, rather than the unaffordable luxury they had represented in the past.

Perhaps even more remarkably, this triumph of brand marketing was attained without any compromise in the calibre of merchandise Con & Verdonck brought to the increasingly discerning Dutch market, with Mr Con in particular exercising a very strict selection policy over all inventory carried by the stores, with the traditional values of Oriental carpet excellence always being promoted above the changing fads and fashions that had begun to influence the Oriental carpet market elsewhere.

With the commercial success of the retail galleries came the opportunity to expand into other areas of the hand-knotted Eastern carpet trade, which was duly accomplished through the acquisition of an important wholesale entity Diesbergen & Kunstenaar, while extending deeper into the antique collector field through the incorporation of the exclusive gallery Kirman.

New marketing approaches were also developed, including special events tailored specifically for the large Diplomatic community in Den Haag, and launching of the Projekt Groep - a vehicle designed to arrange specialist Connoisseur-level exhibitions and promotions tied to long-term research and acquisition projects that had been initiated by Mr Con. The Con & Verdonck Special Collections programme addressed elsewhere in this site was evolved directly from the Projekt Groep initiative, as being an approach ideally suited to the requirements of the high-end Dutch market during these early years of the twenty-first century.

Illustrated left and right

The title pages of the English and Dutch first editions of J.M. Con's best known publication on his specialist subject

While constantly taking the Con & Verdonck business into new pastures of innovation, Mr Con continued to pursue his love of collecting and researching the finest and most beautiful classic Persian and Eastern carpets, and became increasingly recognised as an international expert on the subject.

In 1964, his highly informed and practical monograph on the subject entitled Oosterse tapijten was published by Van Dishoeck of Amsterdam. This was revised and translated into English, and Carpets from the Orient was published simultaneously in 1966 by Universe Books of New York and the Merlin Press of London, to considerable critical acclaim. It continues to be referenced as a knowledgeable and characteristically down-to-earth treatment of its difficult and specialised subject. (see illustrations above)

As the twentieth century drew to a close, Con & Verdonck b.v. was faced with many of the problems besetting other companies world-wide that had experienced a phase of rapid expansion during the immediate post World War II era. Both the founders of the company passed away, and the new management had to adapt to the new trading conditions and customer expectations that developed as the new millennium approached.

This web site reflects several of the most crucial new directions Con & Verdonck is implementing with the object of providing the same innovative service, the same reliance upon excellence and a similarly tailored response to the individual requirements of a new generation of Dutch clients that served Mr Con and Mr Verdonck so well when they set out to change forever the style and scope of supplying the finest Oriental carpets to the Netherlands back in 1933.

Con & Verdonck b.v.
Hoogstraat 30
2513 AS 's-Gravenhage
Telephone : 070 - 346.15.30
Fax : 070 - 345.83.56
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