ust 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
y 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.
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