Written by Jacy Meyer
Something old, something new. For those looking for something from past times, a rare find, interesting gift or unique conversation piece – antique stores are often your best bet. Luckily in Prague, there is a large assortment and prices are almost always negotiable so everyone should be able to find a bauble that fits both taste and budget.
While antique stores can be found in every corner of the city, the Old Town/New Town area seems to be antique central. When out wandering, don´t confuse the multitude of bazaars with antique stores. While they are fun to browse and often a great find is found, usually these are not truly antique stores. Most stores offer a bit of everything; porcelain, paintings, furnishings, jewelry. Often though you´ll find shops specialize in certain items, and if that object is what you are looking for, it´s best to buy from a shop that has a large selection. And don´t forget to ask questions – the shop´s proprietor should be knowledge about all their products, and if they have a specialization it´s a great place to get your queries answered.
Alma Mahler Antique (Valentinská 7, www.almamahler.cz) is a good variety shop. They solicit items from homes all over the country – specializing in Bohemian glass, porcelain, textiles and furnishings. A fun item recently spotted was a small puppet theatre, complete with four marionettes, perfect for creating your own show. In the same area is Cinolter (Maiselova 9, www.antiqueprague.cz.) They have an extensive watch collection as well as many silver tea and coffee sets. Coolest thing here though was a jester-type marble statue. The sly look in his eye most likely comes from the blame he is putting on someone else. One hand is raised in the classical “I don´t know, who me?” gesture, while the other is pointing to someone off to his left. Antique Andrle (Křižovnická 1, www.antiqueandrle.cz) is a spacious shop with everything well-displayed. Many porcelain figurines, Loetz and Moser glass and two walls covered with wooden paintings of biblical scenes. Bargain hunters – their bottom floor offers merchandise at a 30% discount. Across the river is Antique Ahasver (Prokopská 3.) Here´s where you´ll find the best selection of traditional folk clothing and antique formal gowns, as well as all the vintage accessories like beaded purses and brooches.
Art Deco fans have their choice of shops. Art Deco (Michalská 21) also has a great vintage clothing and jewelry selection as well as tons of other random goodies from the 1920´-1930´s. Two words for why Antic Aura (Vyšehradská 27) is probably my favorite browsing spot – purses and jewelry. They probably have other stuff there too; I think I´ve seen some ceramics and art.
Křemencova Street is a little antique strip. At number 7 is Military Antiques. Three guesses what you´ll find here. Yep, helmets, daggers, uniforms, ammunition – all the fun war game toys. Bazar Antik is at number 4. You´ll quickly notice this shop is not tourist focused as you´ll have to poke around a bit to find what you are looking for. Nice linens and porcelain though and at better prices then some of the Old Town area shops. One block over at Pštrossova 22, is Hamparadi Antik Bazar, quite similar to Bazar Antik. Again, take your time to uncover the goods. Lots of porcelain and glass, but occasionally they have some neat old toys and fun advertisements. None of these shops have websites, and are only open weekdays.
There are places not as centrally located that are definitely worth a visit, and not only because the prices are a bit lower. Prague 5´s best shop is Starožitnosti pod Kinskou (nám. Kinských 7, www.antique-shop.cz.) I love the chandelier collection but this is probably also your best bet for furnishings. Over in Prague 2 is the tiny Antique Bohemia Crown (Korunní 8, www.ceskakoruna.cz.) They offer a little of everything – heavy on the porcelain and paintings. Also in Prague 2 is the most elegant store I´ve found. Antik Mape (Rumanská 28, www.antikmape.cz) has a lot of furnishings and paintings, but also display cases filled with other goodies like watches and porcelain. In their front window recently I spotted a fish dish set. Fish were painted in the center, with a dark red band surrounding the plate. The best part was the fish serving dish, perfect for next year´s Christmas carp. They also had a darling tabletop wooden painted spinning wheel. Antikvita (Na Hutích 9 www.antikvita.cz) in Prague 6 is jam-packed so plan on spending about 10 minutes standing in front of every display case. Lots of jewelry, glass and porcelain.
The Antique Dealers Association of the Czech Republic (www.asociace.com) holds an antique fair twice a year. Each fair has its own theme and participating dealers are asked to have lots of the chosen object on display. Last November, for example, the theme was jewelry and it was a fun one! Each dealer is asked to not only bring objects on the chosen theme, but also never before seen stuff, so the fairs are a great opportunity to discover some treasures. The fairs are held at Mánes Gallery and usually about 60 shops from all over the Czech Republic attend. Dates in 2008 are May 15-19 and November 20-24.
The websites of most of these shops are quite informative, offering pictures, descriptions and even online ordering of their stock. But get out and get digging – you can´t truly be antiquing in front of the computer. Good antiquers know you need to become a regular to get the good stuff. Find some shops you like and pop in a couple times a month. Get to know the staff and they´ll share tips like when new merchandise is on the way.