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Czech Position

Prague’s upcoming Antique Fair offers chance for browsing and buying; this year’s theme is the 19th century

Prague’s Antique Fair can be considered an exhibition or a shopping extravaganza depending on your mood and budget. Sponsored by the Czech Association of Antique Dealers, the fair runs April 26-29 at Novomestská radnice and is a great opportunity to meet Czech antique dealers, learn more about antiques, and perhaps purchase something new. Well, new to you.

Held twice a year, this addition will feature about 60 exhibitors from across the Czech Republic and organizers expect between 7,000 and 10,000 visitors over the four-day run.

“In one location there are 60 shops and auctions houses and visitors can see the most antiques in one place,” Lucie Šustková, manager of the Antique Fair, told Czech Position. “People who are coming are friends of antiques, art collectors, people who are interested in saving money on nice antique pieces and also other antique dealers from the Czech Republic and other countries.”

Each year organizers choose a theme for the Fair, and this year it’s the 19th century. Czech Association of Antique Dealers president Simona Šustková said the Fair’s exhibitions will show artifacts inspired by the art of the French court of Napoleon Bonaparte as well as antiques from typical bourgeois interiors of the time. This so-called Napoleonic classicism is considered the last phase of the classical style better known as Empire. It features perfect symmetry, efficiency, austerity, straight and slim lines.

Empire, Biedermeier styles, and more

Šustková, who also owns Alma Antiques in Prague 1, says her shop will be bringing items from the 19th century, plus additional pieces. “We will bring to the Fair some jewelry, glass, porcelain and also textiles,” she told Czech Position. “Our shop specialization is wide; we have jewelry, glass, toys, porcelain, furniture, but what is special are our textiles — old handmade tablecloths, bed sheets and antique clothes.”

Even with a theme, the variety on display will be impressive with each shop putting out the best of what they have to offer. Miroslav Matejka, owner of Bušidó, for example will be bringing typical original Asian art, Japanese samurai swords, pottery, wooden blocks, old prints and hanging scrolls. He says the Fair is a great chance to meet people with an interest in antiques.

“We meet here a lot of different kinds of people with an interest in old art,” he told Czech Position. “The Fair is a good chance to see a lot of nice antique items in one place.”

Simona Šustková said Alma Antiques has been participating in the Fair for 15 years and consistently sees good business.

“What is important here is that you can find the best quality of all antique businesses and also the visitors are really good buyers,” she said. “Plus, it is really a good idea to invest in antique goods, the prices are low and for sure they are going to grow in the coming years.”

Something old and…something old

Authenticity is a big concern when it comes to buying antiques. The Antique Fair takes the worry out of purchasing with a special committee designated to monitor all items put on display.

“Here, you have a large number of dealers ‘under one roof’ from all over the country,” Petra Young, partner and auctioneer with Antiques Art Auctions and VP of International Relations for the Czech Association of Antique Dealers told Czech Position. “The vetting committee checks all the exhibits prior to the opening of the Fair and they have a right to veto any item where the origin is in doubt.”

Antiques Art Auctions has shops in Prague, Brno and Ostrava. They exhibit and sell a full range of art and antiques; however, Young says they are best known for their extensive collection of paintings, especially Czech from the first half of the 20th century.

“We will be bringing a wide range of paintings representing the different schools of Czech painters, as well as a number of other objects,” she said. “One of our most interesting and valuable exhibits will be the ‘Baby Jesus of Prague,’ a small wooden figure from around 1660-1710, an excellent example of so-called Cuzco Baroque.”

Šustková said the Antique Fair was originally started to make the antique business more public as well as create an opportunity for antique dealers from across the country to meet and talk shop. In addition to organizing the Fairs, the Association also runs the Rudolfinska akademie; a two year retraining program in the area of antiques, history, history of art and conservation.

While it is perfectly acceptable to attend the Fair to simply soak up the antique atmosphere, the items on display are for sale, so if you are in a mind to buy, it’s best you hit the Fair early to ensure the widest possible array of goods are still available. “Generally, exhibitors save the best pieces for the Fair,” Young said. “Buyers have a chance to see a number of excellent antiques and art in one place.”