Finding antiques in Vienna isn’t as easy as finding horse-drawn carriages or Wiener Schnitzel—you have to do a little research. The good news is that the hunt for vintage wares (“Altwaren”) and antiques (“Antiquitäten”) will take you on a journey throughout the city, from a big-box store parking lot to an 18th-century palace.
Austrian and Central European collector pieces include old covered beer steins; vintage Austrian LPs, including patriotic songs from the war years; Gmundner ceramics; Biedermeier-era objects; painted rustic wardrobes and other “farmer” furniture; Jugenstil (Art Nouveau) and Wiener Werkstätte vases and art pieces; Steiff teddy bears; porcelain dolls; Riess enamelware; Czech and Polish crystal and pottery; Herend porcelain animal figurines; Augarten and Meissen porcelain; military memorabilia including a lot of Franz Josef stuff; old books in German; and, even, if you have the stomach for it, Nazi memorabilia.
Upscale Antiques – The Dorotheum
The foremost and largest place to view and purchase antiques in all categories is the Dorotheum, Vienna’s well-known auction house, in a palace on Dorotheergasse. Register with the site to get on their email alert list, and visit an auction or two just for fun, even if you don’t bid on anything. However, you should know that the process is not as difficult as you might think. I’ve bid successfully on items in three auctions now.
If your German isn’t good enough for bidding purposes, you can hire one of the auction house’s staff members to bid for you for a 10% fee. You can also bid online and by telephone. Pay close attention to added fees and taxes. There is also a section on the 2nd floor where you may purchase some items directly without going through the auction process, as well as a nice café.
The Dorotheum is a great place to familiarize yourself with antique jewelry, furniture, paintings, military memorabilia, scientific instruments and toys. If you love rustic painted furniture, there is a special auction of “Bauernmobil” in early December each year. You should also know that some items have no reserve, so the bidding may start at a much lower price than is estimated in the catalog.
Innere Stadt Antiques
If there is an antiques district in Vienna, it’s probably the area around the Dorotheum. Upscale antiques shops are on Stallburggasse, Dorotheergasse,and Plankengasse as well as dotted around the rest of the old city center. Of particular note are two shops at Plankengasse 7: a tiny, charming military antiques shop, and a very tasteful shop that mixes antiques with artsy modern creations, called Hofeneder. Next to these, on the corner of Plankengasse and Dorotheergasse, is a museum-quality store offering Baroque and even Gothic painted furniture and church statuettes, etc. — with museum-quality prices. (I have also read about antiques shops at the Palais Breuner at Singerstrasse 16, but have not checked them out.)
The best-known and most fun flea market is the Saturday “flohmarkt” at the Naschmarkt (Vienna’s huge, wonderful but often crowded food market). The flea market is at the farthest end of the Naschmarkt heading away from the city center, a little past the food market section. Get off the U4 at the Kettenbrücke stop and you’ll be right in the middle of the flohmarkt. It opens early in the morning (6:30, but dealers are usually there earlier, buying from each other) and although it is advertised as lasting all day, many vendors start packing up after noon.
Even in stormy weather, there will always be sellers there; a friend and I tested this theory out recently during a January snowstorm and found that about a third of the usual number of vendors were there—but low turnout meant better bargains. Items I’ve purchased at this flea market include enamelware, framed artwork, vintage kitchenware and even an old fur coat for 50 euros. If something seems too expensive to you, ask if this is their “best price.” You will often get a reduction.
By accident, I stumbled upon a Saturday flea market in a large parking lot near Conad (a big electronics store) in the 22nd district, on Gewerbeparkstrasse. Inside a long warehouse, there were several rows of vendors selling a wide variety of new and old: metal parts, dolls, chandeliers, shoes, LPs, pet supplies, as well as a small farm food market. Outside, in clear weather, there are even more lanes of sellers. Even more than at the Naschmarkt, you have to bypass (or, sometimes, weed through) the junk to find the gems. I paid 100 euros each for two circa-1800 oil landscapes. Hardly a bargain, considering they are unsigned, but once I got them restored and framed, they took pride of place in our dining room.
Old Books and Antique Maps
Old books and vintage maps are in a separate category and have their own stores here, with the name “Antiquariat” attached to them. While they may have a few small antiques that are connected to a library function, such as magnifying glasses or bookstands, they generally feature books and maps only.
Vintage and Antiques Stores
These stores mix vintage items with true antiques and are scattered throughout the city. Readers are encouraged to submit reviews of shops they’ve visited. Just a few are listed here, many of which just happen to be along the 40-41 tram line—in other words, in my neck of the woods! Please add your own recommendations, especially in other districts.
Kunsthandlung Weber und Langer
Tram 40-41, Volksoper stop. U6 – Währingerstrasse stop
Just a few things, but true antiques; beautifully chosen, with a focus on rustic furniture and objects. Owner speaks English.
Tel. 43 664 9017212
U6 Währingerstrasse stop
Oil paintings, frames (and framing), stamps, some furniture and objects.
Karl Behavka Art and Antiques
Tram 40, 41 Martinstrasse stop
Military, porcelain, furniture, old violins, paintings, clocks, religious articles.
Tram 40, 41 Aumannplatz stop
A fun vintage store with a “Brooklyn” feel to it: LPs, vintage sewing supplies, glassware, maps and signs, vintage clothing, shoes and hats, some furniture. Stock changes frequently.
Tram 40, 41, Aumannplatz stop
Curios, Gmundner ceramics, Lillien, Meissen, Augarten and Herend figurines, military figures.
Tram 40, 41 Weinhauser stop
Large selection of furniture, LPs, glassware, art objects, and miscellaneous.
Lorenz-Mandl Gasse 25
Mostly afternoon hours
Tram 10,46 and bus 48A Joachimsthalerplatz stop
Large warehouse with vintage and antique garden furniture, busts, interior furniture, etc. Interesting selection and location.
Reviews by Francesca Kelly.