Used Bookstores (Antikvariáty)

Digging Through History: A look at fun Antikvariát finds

Written by Jacy Meyer

for Expats.cz

I´m having a hard time translating Antikvariát. I guess you could say "used bookstore" but that doesn´t sound like enough. A true Antikvariát is filled with old and secondhand paper products of all sorts ­ postcards, stamps, maps, drawings and illustrations, in addition to books. In the Czech Republic they are a fascinating glimpse into former times, whether you speak the language or not. I´ll usually pop into one whenever I´m passing by, however more often than not I don´t buy anything, preferring to root through the piles and enjoy my finds ­ and leave the actual purchasing to someone who may have a personal connection to the chosen treasure.

I´m a poker and a digger, so prefer the dark and dusty shops to the well-laid out ones. Behind the counter I want a crusty old man who looks like he hasn´t been out of his shop since before the revolution, surrounded by a teetering pile of books. A good example can be found at Antikvariát Pražský Almanach (Újezd 26, www.artbook.cz.) This placed is stuffed. The desk in the middle holds boxes of cards and postcards; the walls covered with old posters and drawings. That´s the key to smart Antikvariát shopping: look up. The walls are usually covered with a variety of old advertisements, drawings, maps and often paintings. If it is old cards and postcards you like, head over to Antikvariát Arco (Dlážděná 4.) A recent visit saw two people sitting on stools pawing through the long boxes that held their selection. Next door is Antikvariát Dobrá kniha (www.antikvariáty.cz.) I believe it´s the same owner; they´ve given all their postcards and other memorabilia to Arco. This is a larger shop with lots of well-displayed books. Be sure to look to the children´s section; the picture books are always illuminating.

Over at Národní 40 is Antikvariát Galerie Můstek. This nearly borders on the fancy-schmancy side of the scale. It´s a small shop but they have a wide-ranging selection of books; plus huge binders filled with illustrations like military, fashion and anatomy designs. The walls are covered with maps, prints and framed paintings. While I normally don´t recommend shopping on Pařížská, do visit Antikvariát Pařížská (Pařížská 8.) They actually only have a small book selection, but a massive painting collection ­ both framed and not. Drawings and maps can also be found, but the neatest item here is their stamp collection. Selections of stamps from Czechoslovakia are neatly arranged in clear plastic envelopes. Staying on the posher side of town, head to Antikvariát Karel Křenek (U Obecního domu 2, www.karel-krenek.com.) There´s no poking around to be done here ­ everything is well lit and laid-out. They have many maps and drawings from all over the world; drawings preserved in plastic folders and display cases filled with special items.

Antikvariát Knihkupectví Judaica (Siroká 7) offers all sorts of Jewish related memorabilia including books, drawings and paintings. Antikvariát Ztichla Klika (Betlémská 10, www.ztichlaklika.cz) is a large shop; around the corner you can pop into Antikvariát Schwarz (Betlémské nám. 11.) This is more of a bazaar than an antikvariát, but there´s a large bin of old prints as well as some postcards and for the really retro among us, records. Two other shops in proximity to each other are Antikvariát (Křemencova 14, www.knizky.com) and Antikvariát Kant (Opatovická 26, www.antik-kant.cz.) Antikvariát looks like they are either moving in or out. Some lovely drawings surround the door, and immediately to the left are shelves offering books for 5, 10 and 15 CZK. Kant is one of my favs. The entry room is filled with books for 5-15 CZK. They have many drawings, lots of boxes to poke through (but also well-laid out and marked shelves) and English books. Microwave Fish and Seafood cookbook for anyone? Also interesting here are the actual photographs in one of their boxes by the counter. Last visit there were a selection of ones from an operating theater, and yes, someone was on the table.

Besides Pražský Almanach and Kant, my favorite is probably Antikvariát Dlážděná v Růžové (Růžová 5, www.adplus.cz.) They have tons of illustrations hanging on the wall, more drawings filed away by topic in drawers, lots of books and a bookshelf with books in both English and German. Under the cash desk, there are usually four boxes filled with books for 1 CZK! Which reminds me ­ always look through the bargain bins. I picked up what looks like an old Czech textbook, Krásná a Slavná, copyright 1961, for a mere 20 CZK. It has great illustrations and looks like it was never even opened. This shop also has Czech Republic hiking maps.

Fun times ahead folks. This should probably be listed on my tops list as well ­ but you need a certain mood. Out in Prague 7 is Antikvariát (Dělnická 45.) This place is huge. And a mess. Boxes and piles of books and magazines are everywhere. German and English books are mixed in with the regulars; and some of the shelves are marked. There are both a separate English and German shelf as well. Banana boxes are overflowing with magazines and other publications ­ sometimes in English. The second room has drawers labeled maps, but upon opening them you´ll see piles of drawings. Boxes of stamps and postcards can be found closer to the cash desk; and there are also two tables with porcelain and glass vases and such. Adds to the yard sale ambience of the place.

If you are looking for a special, rare or antique book or map, be sure to visit some of the above websites. Some are in English and have additional products for sale and may even do special orders.

 

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