The guide book published in 2006 we expected would lead us to some antiques shops was looking like it might be a guide to things that weren’t there anymore. While the first two antique shops were gone, we did manage to locate a healthy antique district.
I expect antiques to be more popular in a country with a weakening currency, however. At least as far as the lower and mid-range antiques go.
Two larger mall-type stores in the San Telmo area were set up with gates that divided the stalls. Each was operated individually, not having a central cashier (some in Manhattan are like this). Visiting each mall several times, most stalls were closed on both occasions. The offerings were not so different than what you might find in a U.S. antique mall. Most things were not arranged in any kind of setting.
The higher-end shops carried mostly items with a French flair. I don’t know if any of it could have been produced in Argentina, I expect not. One store, Guevara Gallery (Defensa 982), specialized in Art Deco items, but there wasn’t much midcentury- whether that’s a symptom of interest or availability- I don’t know.
That said, some of the things currently popular in the United States are also popular in Buenos Aires. Among these are vinyl records and typewriters. One shop near Florida Street has what appeared to be reconditioned typewriters at significant prices. Several booths also contained vintage clothing items.
Walking on Defensa to Plaza Dorrego, you’ll find vendors selling old books, compact discs and leather items. On Sunday, this becomes a large flea market. I didn’t get to visit it but imagine it to have more of the same type of thing.
A store called Velvet (Defensa 956) was packed with interesting paintings from a century or more. Adrianna, the owner said her mother started the shop and we were invited to another building also filled with treasures, but we declined.
My favorite shop, Arte Colonial Sudamericano (Defensa 1066), specialized in Colonial-era silver, much of it of a religious nature. These are items made by local craftsmen and painted by local artists. The shopkeeper was ready for American buyers and able to explain something about each piece we inquired about. The prices were in U.S. dollars.
While I am jealous of such a thriving antique district, you can see how some are being replaced by boutique shops. The proprietors are mostly older, and there is the fear that a rebounding economy may not be the friend of the antique district here.
Unfortunately, the stores were not keen on photographs being taken.