Visit our top antique shops
You’ll want to dedicate an entire afternoon – nay, a whole day – to wandering through the warren of stalls inside this sprawling warehouse. With more than 60 dealers set up under a ceiling of fairy lights, there’s sure to be a decade, style or oddity that catches your antiquing eye. One stall resembles a fully fitted-out 1960s kitchen, set up with a teak veneer table, matching buffet dresser, crock pots, hand beaters and mechanical cooking scales. There’s an entire cabinet dedicated to Glomesh purses, purposefully colour-coded shelves of vintage glassware and a ‘man cave’ area full of industrial-style light fittings and garage equipment.
As you hunt for bargains, any of the friendly stallholders who’re floating about the premises are happy to assist you, even if it’s not their shop. It’s a real community vibe. But when you plan your visit, don’t actually go looking for them on Mitchell Road. This diverse caravan packed up their swags about four years ago and moved to Bourke Street in Alexandria.
When we walked up to the meticulous window displays at Bloodworth Bellamy, we didn’t immediately see the charismatic owner of the Newtown store, Nick Cadey, behind the glass. He was tinkering with a new colourful collection – the personal effects of the 1960s president of the Australian magicians’ club. Once disentangled from the cloaks, light displays and trick hats, he introduced us to his menagerie of unusual objects.
The small space on King Street is surprisingly clutter-free, with items from 19th and 20th century England, France and Japan neatly interwoven on the shelves. Collections of Hornby trains and textile sculptures are carefully curated, and Nick has chosen individual objects that share a narrative or preserve a moment in time. A set of chipped Japanese Kobe dolls from the 1850s sit beside a geisha wig and across the aisle from a tin sink painted to look like wood so it wouldn’t rot on a French sailing ship in the 1800s. And while there’s furniture and taxidermy pieces for the avid antique collector, the shop also does a roaring trade in more affordable items, like 1980s comics going for $8 a pop.
There’s not a vintage lolly jar or antique clock out of place in this carefully put together Balmain store. In one curated corner there’s European medicine balls from the ’30s and ’40s paired with antique fencing masks. In the window display, a collection of huge factory textile bobbins from England shrouded in bushels of cotton look more like a work of art than a practical tool.
This exacting style all comes down to the shop’s enthusiastic owner Leanne Carter-Taylor, who doesn’t include anything in her collection which she doesn’t personally love. Since she’s been operating in this way for almost a decade, it seems Sydney likes Leanne’s approach. The diversity of what’s on the shelves probably helps too. There’s industrial-style stools and light fixtures, weathered chopping boards and rolling pins for a farmhouse kitchen, and collections of glass wine jars and a perpetual calendar.
You might need to gaffa tape your wallet shut during a visit to Lunatiques, a massive vintage warehouse in Mascot. Otherwise, you might find your credit card slips out and begins tapping for a framed Southern Comfort mirror featuring a Mississippi steamer, a collection of copper cookware, some original mechanic overalls and a mid-century bar.
This one-stop shop for retrofitting your home operates like a series of smaller shops rolled into one, with each vendor selling a curated pocket of wares that range from racks of vintage clothes, kitchen accoutrement, collectable figurines, jewellery, furniture and industrial fittings. You can find cheap bargains for pocket change, like a shiny jelly mould or enamel ladle for your wall. If your budget is extra flexible you might start looking at the Art Deco lamps, Chesterfield sofas and beautiful timber cabinetry.
We didn’t anticipate finding a collection of baby gasmasks so appealing – nor, for that matter, a pair of polio prosthetics – but, as we found ourselves inside the new warehouse from vintage and antiques collectors Apostlebird there was a strong sense of fascination with the metal juvenile legs dangling from the beams. Unlike the provincial French furniture dealers and the Rockabilly outfitters of the Inner West, this store has an air of something far more macabre.
Around 80 per cent of the items in store are from the US, including a barbershop chair, a chewing gum vending machine, vintage typewriters and a Kitchen Maid cake tin. It’s not a store for vintage threads but it is one that’ll keep you captivated. As you make a beeline for the pinhole cameras, your eyes are already spying the antique breast pump ($75), stacked beside a plastic skull ($55).
The first thing you notice walking into Seasonal Concepts is the warming aroma of dried banksias and fresh roses. This treasure trove of pre-1950s Australian furniture, collectables and crockery doubles as a florist – they offer floral workshops and they can kit out events and film sets with props for hire. The store recreates the childlike wonderment of exploring your grandparents shed, right down to the rows of vintage terracotta pots (a very accessible $5 each), haphazardly stacked oak wardrobes and soft light filtering through the stained glass windows.
They stray a little from this theme with their broad collection of natural curiosities, including an impressively well-kempt taxidermy peacock and carefully preserved seahorses, which you can take home for $85. If you love to dig for bargains and you’re not afraid of heights, climb the ladder and scour the floor-to-ceiling cabinet of kitchenware for a rare find. There are new items scattered among the old, but most fresh furniture pieces are sustainably sourced or locally made, and the range of linens and pillows are decorated with original prints – even one from the bottom of an antique glory box.
Sydney couple Gavin Sainsbury and Scott Jenkins spent a month travelling across France, rummaging for vintage finds and salvaged homewares to stock their shop on Palace Street. Filled with vintage posters, glassware and oak furniture, the store is their first retail venture after years of collecting antiques as a hobby.
When travelling for work, the couple would drive out to warehouses and people’s backyard sales to find antiques. Those finds include a 1920s mirror that’s decorated with aged splits in the glass – Jenkins tells us it’s from a café in Lyon – and a large wooden table in the centre of the room was formerly a baker’s workbench. They've added these to a collection of artworks, ceramics and decorative homewares full of history that you can pick up from the Petersham store.
Spilling out onto Liverpool Street is the eclectic contents of Dust. Two Egyptian-style movie prop columns guard a huge oil painting of Frida Kahlo, which sits beside uncategorised furniture and an old dressmaking mannequin. This sprawling collection increases tenfold once you wander inside, with vintage toys, antique jewellery and newly created art covering almost every surface.
This well-loved Darlinghurst corner store is a prized relic in the antique community, operating for 19 years in the same tiny room packed to the roof with interesting one-off pieces and well-preserved collections. There doesn’t seem to be a strict rule on the style, era or heritage of items. You’ll find a 100-year-old Nepalese hill tribe mask beside a set of toy robots from the 1960s and old French perfume bottles.
‘Gallery’ does feel like an appropriate description for these halls of objects behind their very formal glass cases. As you walk from one shop dedicated to Art Deco porcelain to another exclusively housing vintage silverware and Waterford crystal glasses, it feels like you’re jumping between carefully curated museums.
The 20 different dealers housed in Potts Point Galleries bring rare and diverse finds to your attention. Explore the back corner for a dig of archeological finds from Neolithic China and late Roman culture; rummage through well-preserved outfits from 1940s coats to colourful 1980s blouses; or reminisce about that relic the landline telephone at a cabinet of novelty dial-ups from the last century.
While you might expect a certain stuffiness or rigour for the rules from an antique store focused solely on French finds, Ici et Là maintains that je ne sais quoi. You can secure a statement table, dresser or mirror from centuries past, but they also offer original creations inspired by European tradition. Andrew Forst is the man behind this Surry Hills store that’s been bringing a Parisian bent to the area for almost 17 years. While scouring France and Belgium for one-off antique pieces is Forst’s passion, he’s also moved into creating a range of original new deck chairs. He uses a bright striped fabric that he sources directly from the produces on the border of France and Spain that, when translated, is called ‘fabric of the sun.’
Ici et Là, (meaning ‘here and there’) gives you a taste of French romanticism and a burst of fresh style. New and old pieces are both a bit of an investment – a pair of deck chairs will set you back $400 and antique items go up from there – but they’ll really set the mood for an intimate dinner party or backyard soirée.