Feel at Home in The Hague

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Just a few short weekends ago, Holland celebrated its annual “Feel at Home in The Hague” Expat Fair teaching newcomers “How to Live in Holland”. The Antiques Diva™ took part in the fair offering new expats hints and tips on antique shopping in Holland. Those of you who weren’t able to attend missed a roaring good time, but we don’t want you to feel too left out so for readers and arm-chair travelers at home, we’re posting the article in full!
The Antiques Diva™

Antiques Shopping in The Hague

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>By mere happenstance, you’re in Holland at the best time to buy antiques in the last quarter century. Right now, Holland is offering some of the best bargains in Western Europe. Antiques have fallen out of favor with the fashion-forward low-landers and every Jan, Henk and Peter is cleaning their “zolder”, banishing anything Rococo, Baroque or beyond. As the Dutch lose interest in antiques, prices drop and savvy shoppers benefit from increased selection and lower prices. As an antique shopping maven, my mantra is the time is ripe to cash in on the age-old adage, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Of course, “trash or treasure” are subjective words. An 18th C heavily-carved Dutch walnut armoire might have sold ten years ago for 12,000 Euros. Today you can pick one up at auction for 2,000E. But you needn’t spend thousands to cash in on this recession. I’ve bought 200 year old copper pots and Art Deco lighting fixtures at Diemen’s De Eland for less than the price of dinner at IKEA. As a non-Dutch speaker, going to auction seems to be a daunting affair. But don’t let the words get in the way. De Zwaan located on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht #474 is part vaudeville show, part cultural immersion course. Go to viewings and peruse the catalogs in advance. If serious about buying, ask that your lot be sold in English. Should your budget be a bit bigger, Sotheby’s and Christies always offer English as an option.

A perfect place to start your tour is Amsterdam’s Spiegelkwartier, where over 100 of the best mid-to-high-end antique shops have congregated in the shadow of the Rijksmuseum. Two of my favorites are located on the Prinsengracht – Ria Jong’s at 574 and Arphi Antiques & Atelier at 827. Next on your list should be De Looier Antique Mall at Elandsgracht 109, which has a decidedly more casual feel and significantly lower prices.

I do not like the flea markets in Amsterdam. Though considered institutions, the Albert Cuypmarkt and Waterlooplein tend to be too heavy on the fleas. The Monday morning Noordermarkt is full of used clothes and bric-a-brac, however I’ve found a few stalls selling genuine antiques. I picked up an art deco bronze for a third of its value. Sundays May to October head to Nieuwmarkt for casual browsing.

While Amsterdam is charming with its chunky gables and glittering canals, The Hague feels regal with her international flavor and, in this diva’s opinion, is the best place to shop in Holland! From May until October, on Thursdays and Sundays, an antique and book market sets up on the Lange Voorhout selling the sort of brocante items you would expect to find on a stroll through Provence. On my last visit, I found some antique French stemware, a painting straight off the fields of Flevoland and a great Prussian lithograph. Around the corner from this tree-lined square is the main antique shopping artery of The Hague – Denneweg and Frederikstraat. Similar to the Spiegelkwartier, but smaller, this area has a greater range in high- to low-end items. From here a trip to the Noordeinde is necessary for art and antique gallery hopping. Two of my favorite shops are Frank Vrolijk Antieke Bouwmaterialen at Heilingweg 177 and S Van Leeuwen, Noordeinde 164.

The Hague VVV offers a brochure of the Art & Antiques District. Every August, Kunst en Antiek Dagen offers a program full of art & antique related activities. Horse-drawn carriage rides are free of charge, showing the best routes as they traverse the quarter while a special “en plein air” exhibit takes place around the Lange Voorhout.

If there’s one thing The Netherlands does well, it’s antique fairs. The pièces de résistance is TEFAF, the world’s leading art and antique show, held each March in Maastricht. Maastricht compliments the fair with a great number of antique shops clustered in the Wijck district. But s’Hertogenbosch hosts AFSH, with prices more targeted at Mercedes drivers rather than museum curators or those with private jets. Thus, I find this high-end fair more accessible for extravagant splurges. As in Maastricht, Den Bosch has her own antiques quarter and the VVV offers a map listing the antique shops. My favorite fair coordinator is InterEvent’s, which hosts among others two fairs in Naarden – La Table held 13-16 November, 2008 and Kunst & Antiek Weekend on the 22-25 January, 2009. While adding dates to your agenda, you mustn’t forget to add the popular PAN Amsterdam November 23-30, 2008.
If you’re interested in antiques, you might be interested in booking a private tour with The Antiques Diva™ Exclusive Antique Shopping Tours of Holland, Belgium and France! Visit The Diva’s blog for weekly “where to shop” updates.

Antiques Diva Blog and Antiques Diva Tours

Desperately Seeking Delft Tiles

Dear Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Your husband WG told me about your blog and I was hoping you could help me! I’m going to be in Amsterdam on holiday this month and would like to buy some antique Delft tiles while visiting. Do you have any recommendations of where I should shop? Also, do you have any tips of things I should do while in Amsterdam?


Desperately Seeking Delft


Dear Desperately Seeking Delft,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>WG told me you might be emailing! I am quite happy to give you some information on buying antique Delft tiles in Amsterdam! My answer to this question varies depending on the quantity of tiles you are interested in purchasing. The first place I send anyone looking for antique Delft tiles is to one of my favorite stores in Amsterdam!
De Weldaad is a charming shop located in the 9 Streets, my favorite shopping area in Amsterdam!

De Weldaad is an antique store that sells as many reclaimed salvaged goods as it does reproductions & home decorating goods. The shop is simply gorgeous and you’ll be happy to know they have an incredible selection of Delft tiles to choose from. Prices start at about 15E per tile and move upwards to 150E – 200E per tile! Needless to say, buying Delft tiles isn’t cheap! The owner of this shop happens to have a “farm store” located in Abcoude where she sells items at wholesale cost & has a much larger assortment of antiques & painted furniture. Sometimes she gets entire “Delft tile walls” in amongst the reclaimed building materials she sells. If you’re looking for a “wall of tiles” to use in a renovation project of a bathroom or kitchen, it would be worth emailing the owner at m.verheijke@weldaad.com to inquire on her inventory.

A second place I personally search for individual antique tiles within Amsterdam is De Looier Antiques Mall. This isn’t a gezellig sort of place like De Weldaad. It’s an antique mall and everything happens to be in a glass case. I personally find this antiques mall to be sterile, as I like to shop in places that look like a home, however it’s a favorite shopping destination of many A’damers. You won’t find “walls of tiles” here, but instead individual tiles in the same price range as above scattered around the mall. And if you like antiques you have about 200 vendors to choose from!

This shop is located on the Elandsgracht where there are a few other antique shops. Usually if I go to De Looier I take the Tram to De Looier, starting my day here I walk from this shop down the Elandsgracht towards the Prinsengracht. Turn left on the Prinsengracht and you’ll find tons of fabulous quirky shops lining the canal! When you are almost opposite the Anne Frank House there is a Delft Shop selling very good quality Delft products (both old & new). I don’t remember the name of the shop – but you can’t miss it!

I’m not sure how long you are in Amsterdam for holiday or what your plans include. However, a trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a visit to The Rijksmuseum. That would be like visiting Paris and not going to The Louvre! My recommendation would be that you pop into the antiques district – The Spiegelkwartier – which is located perpendicular to the museum’s front entrance. Here you’ll find a wide assortment of Delft tiles in miscellaneous antique stores. The Spiegelkwartier is the premier antiques district in Amsterdam and while they have “high end” stores, they have mid-range & low-end shops as well.

WG & I love taking a Saturday afternoon in this district. Not only do you have the antique shopping & Rijksmuseum but also two of my favorite smaller museums are within easy walking distance from the antiques neighborhood: The Van Loon Museum and The Tassen Museum (Purse Museum). Also, I love nothing more than a casual lunch across from the purse museum at Stacey’s Pennywell Brasserie– the carpaccio salad with pine nuts & truffle mayonnaise with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc is to die for.

If you’re serious about buying tiles, then I’d recommend you get out of the city and go to Delft! It’s probably a 45 min train ride away and is a charming town worthy of a visit especially if you are a Vermeer fan as this is the city he is from! Perhaps the best resource for antique tiles is De Porcelijne Lampetkan Antiques. I just visited their store for the first time but I’ve known of them for years as they always have booths at upscale antique fairs. I’ve never seen “walls of tiles” in their display but as always it’s worth asking.

I had an interior decorating client from the USA who wanted to buy a large quantity of antique tiles for her kitchen walls (you can see tiles used in kitchen décor like this if you visit the Van Loon Museum). She was willing to pay the price and readily accepted that this was an expensive way to decorate her home as she & I agreed it was going to make a perfect country kitchen! Once she saw the antique tiles in person, however, she decided she didn’t want to decorate her walls with antique tiles but new ones instead! She thought that the antique tiles looked “too dirty”. And though I love antique Delft tiles, I could understand her point. Thus, instead of buying old, we went straight to the factories in Delft where you can buy giant tile murals or “wall pictures” where an assortment of tiles come together to make 1 picture. A tour through any one of the Delft factories is an interesting hour and educational as it will help “improve your eye” for quality when you’re out shopping for Delft…. I’ve been to several of the Delft factories but the one I remember liking best was De Porceleyne Fles (The Porcelain Jar). Online you will find a “tile catalog” of their inventory.

Hope this info helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Enjoy Amsterdam!

The Antiques Diva™

PS: One more Amsterdam must-do is to visit “Our Lord in the Attic” museum! It’s a baroque cathedral hidden in the attic of a house in the red light district! Also, I don’t know if you are a “foodie” but if you are, one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in my life was in Amsterdam at Restaurant De Kas when WG & I booked the Chef’s Table on a double date with our friends The Gourmet God & Goddess! If you go to De Kas, sitting at the Chef’s Table is essential as from this seat you get to taste every single thing that comes out of the kitchen!