Vintage lithographs

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Vienna trades heavily on its associations with art and with the past, in ways that are charming, irritating, and probably inevitable given its history (and the size of its tourism industry).

Either way, there are a lot of stores that sell antique prints, and while many are astronomically expensive, there are also bargains to be had. In 2002, when I lived there, I picked up some marvelous 18th century lithographs of insects and butterflies. This time around, I bought these handsome buffalo:

Maps are more expensive, but unframed naturalia won’t typically set you back more than 20 Euros a pop, depending on their condition. The provenance of these pieces is unfortunate — it must be said — since they’re not proper prints at all but plates that were ripped out of old books during the 19th century. (They tore up medieval manuscripts, too; the thought just breaks my heart.) But that damage has already been done, and for those of us who can’t afford to spring for original artwork, they remain a unique and cost-effective way of covering the walls.

At any rate, you can find these all over Europe (antique bookstores tend to have the best prices), and in the U.S., too, though if you’re ever in Vienna, head to Meindl & Sulzmann at Kochgasse 32, in the 8th district…

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