The Aegis
Harford County

Liriodendron Mansion displays extensive collection of hooked rugs

Eric Gordon first discovered hooked rugs in 1982 when he was working at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

“It’s a niche collection,” Gordon said. “It’s not something that people typically collect.”


Hooked rugs are made by looping yarn through a coarse, sturdy fabric, such as burlap. Gordon was drawn to them for their “folky” aspect – and for their affordability. He said the rugs in his extensive collection each cost between $5 and $400.

“I couldn’t afford to buy real artwork, like paintings or anything,” he said. “And this just really appealed to me, and I always liked folk art too.”


About 40 years later, Gordon has collected around 130 hooked rugs – 39 of which are now on display at The Galleries at Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air.

“I just started getting more and more,” Gordon said, “and that’s how the collection grew.”

Gordon classifies hooked rugs into three styles: pictorial – depicting a scene or image individual to the artist – geometric and floral. All three styles are represented in the collection on display.

“I always look for something that’s very unique, different from other people’s,” he said of what he looks for in his rugs.

Gordon isn’t as huge a fan of the refined details of hooked rugs; he prefers more of a “raw image.”

The uniquely North American art style has another air of mystery to it. Almost all of the creators of Gordon’s rugs are unknown to him, with the exception of a rug depicting a map of the world, created by an Arkansas woman in the 1950s.

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Gordon has about 15 to 20 of his rugs on display in his home in Baltimore. But the Cooperstown, New York, native has already decided to start giving some of his collection away.

He’s sold some of the rugs, and his three kids have started to call dibs on other rugs. All three of them want the 19th century rug depicting a lion somehow resembling George Washington, he said.


The exhibition came together through the efforts of Susan Tobin, a longtime friend of Gordon’s and Liriodendron Foundation board member who coordinates the venue’s art exhibits.

Tobin called the rugs “so visually stunning and unique.”

And even as Gordon’s collection begins to shrink in size, the rugs will always be special to him.

“It makes you think of home,” he said. “And home has always been important to me.”

The exhibit, which opened Nov. 13, is holding a special showing Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s open every Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. through Dec. 28. The Liriodendron is at 502 W. Gordon St., Bel Air.