Antique shopping is SO much fun in a country with so damn much HISTORY. Need a blunderbuss pistol for the crazed gun-lover in your life? Do miniature portraits of people wearing white wigs turn you on? Craving an inkwell and plume because you're tired of your computer and you long for the by-gone days when people used paper, pen and ink to communicate? Want someone to carry you around in a 17th century sedan chair because you're too lazy and egotistical to walk? Yep. They've got it all here.
One of the best brocantes or antique fairs in Paris is the annual event at Bastille. They put up a huge white tent right on the circle surrounding the monument to the old prison that was torn town at the beginning of the Revlution. This tent contains the stalls for the vendors with the priciest stuff (artwork, high end collectibles and jewelry, furniture) so don't go in there expecting any great bargains. Then on each side of the Canal Saint Martin there are more stalls (there's a bridge where brocanteurs -- I don't even know if that's a real word in French, but it sure sounds good -- can cross from one side to the other without having to backtrack. There are hundreds of sellers and the stuff is really fascinating. I've only gone once before, and that was a few years ago, but this year a free pass came with our cable TV/Internet bill (merci, Freebox!) and I decided to make an afternoon of it on Friday.
I will just start out by saying I was only window shopping this time; it's too close to Christmas for me to have any extra cash with which to indulge my tastes in antiques. You could absolutely fall in love with something and then go broke paying for it. Oh... but SOMEDAY. Because damn, there was some really wonderful stuff there.
I am always on the hunt for hat pins, which is the one thing I have been actively collecting for over 20 years. I don't always see a lot of them at these brocantes in Paris but this time I hit paydirt. And still didn't buy anything (which proves I CAN exercise some restraint when necessary).
I didn't get a photo of it but in one stall, I saw a silver hat pin in the shape of a round ball, about the size of a golf ball, and when I looked at it more closely, it had either Chinese or Japanese characters embossed on it as well as a really beautiful dragon (the seller said it was from Japan). I have never seen anything like it, and the reason I didn't snatch it up is that the seller wanted 165€ and I've never paid that much for a hat pin. Pity though, because I doubt I'll ever find another one from Asia.
Many sellers specialize, of course, but I've never seen a more beautiful dedicated collection of antique ladies' folding fans than in this one stall. This is just one case of what she was selling.
Something I don't collect, but might like to, are these colorful old glass seltzer bottles. This seller had stuck handwritten labels on each one with the name of where it came from, either the maker or the town. I don't think any of these came from as far away as exotic Brooklyn, NY though.
I liked these walking sticks, which were grouped together because they were mostly carved dogs' heads. If I'd seen a Golden Retriever, I would have HAD to buy it as a gift for my brother-in-law or my nephew back home; between them, they have three beautiful goldens.
I have too many photos for one post, so I'll save the rest for another day soon. But can I just say that THIS ADORABLE THING HERE...
... made me almost wish we had grandkids. Who could resist a portable Guignol puppet theater (two oddly placed and unrelated statues not included), which screams out for some little kids to be entertained by it?
But remember, I said ALMOST. We are SO not ready for grandkids in this family. Neither of Georges young adult "children" are finished with university yet. Let 'em both finish school and go out and get JOBS before they start having kids and expecting us to babysit them. ;)
More "brocanterie" coming soon!