Antiques, Retro & Vintage in Buenos Aires

Taking advantage of the two long holiday weekends, the banker and I decided to blow some of our carefully amassed air miles and seek out some sun by flying to Buenos Aires and Uruguay for a Spring break.
We first visited this amazing city three years ago, after hiking the Inca Trail for four days. You can read about my experiences by clicking here and here. This time we were there purely for rest and relaxation. The chance to visit a city for a second time is wonderful, as you don’t have the pressure to run around like a headless chicken to make sure you see everything people have told you about. First up on our agenda was a gentle wander around the ‘antiques district’ of historic San Telmo. Last time, I was staggered by the fantastic quality and array of Art Deco objects on offer – and their prices! Bargain hunting this was not. Although the best in Art Deco, and Art Nouveau, was still on offer, I was surprised to see that a number of shops had opened up, or changed their stock, to specialise in Mid-Century Modern design. Even established antiques dealers must change as the market itself changes. A great example is Santiago del Campo, who has a large shop on Defensa, and two shops in the fashionable Palermo district, all of which are packed to the gunnels with Brasilian, Argentinian, Italian, Scandinavian, and American design. I was particularly taken by the range of pieces by hot-designer-of-the-moment Sergio Rodriguez.
As ever, there was plenty of intricately cut blue, green or red cased glass in evidence. It’s not as old as it looks, and last time I was told that most of it was postwar Argentinian, and a little bit was Czech. This time I spotted one with a 1950s-60s foil label reading ‘Nagoya Fabricado A Mano’ – it’s not to my taste at all, and I don’t mind still being none the wiser.
I also saw plenty of Fat Lava vases, some at the wildest prices. One design by Carstens kept repeating itself, a deep blue stain matte glaze covered with random orange bubbly lava drips. I presume that this was produced specially for the South American market. More irksome was a wonderful 1950s jug vase I spotted in a dusty and closed shop last time. It was still there! There was no point in attempting to buy it again, as the last time I did that it led to a wild goose chase involving mysterious notes passed from dealer to dealer, a trip to an ice cream parlour miles out of town, and a strange old lady who didn’t seem to want to sell anything!
Did I buy anything? Yes, I did. Watch out for a forthcoming blog post, as it’s a bit of a mystery…

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