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Antiques tour offers shopping with shipping in Central Europe

PHILADEPHIA -- Where is the best new market for antiques and collectibles?

“Central Europe is a terrific new spot for affordable antiques in every price range,” says Philadelphia-based dealer Tom Conrad who just returned from the region and will lead an antique buying tour there in early fall. “Shoppers from the U.S. save big because of the falling Euro and friendly prices,” according to Conrad.

The twelve-day Heart of Europe Antiques Tour will take antiquers from across the U.S. on a buying trip through Central Europe from September 6 -18, 2005. “It’s a sort of ‘Antiques Roadshow, European Style,’” according to Conrad. Container shipping is included to make it easy for participants to get their treasures home. The group will visit antique markets, wholesalers and shops in Nürnberg, Prague, Dresden and several other spots along the back roads of Bohemia, Franconia and Saxony.

“Central Europe is the most-overlooked antiques region on the continent -- that’s why it’s the best place to shop,” says Conrad.

Spots are available, and reservations for the tour are being accepted. Space is limited. The trip is designed for seasoned antiquers, dealers and people who are newer to the field.

The tour covers a large area of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. “It would be hard to imagine another region that is as rich in such exceptional antique furniture and outstanding art, glass, jewelry, crystal, porcelain, pottery, toys, dolls, folk art, primitives and textiles,” according to Conrad.

“Antiques languished in private hands for decades during the Cold War in this part of Europe because a market for them didn’t exist,” said Conrad. “The market now exists and the antiques are finding their way to it. “Biedermeier, Turn-of-the-Century, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Country and Mid-Century antiques are plentiful.”

“Central Europe is one of the best-priced markets for American shoppers right now. The Euro is at its lowest point in seven months, and buying in Europe has been down, so dealers are eager to move their inventory. They are motivated to sell,” explains Conrad.

Buyers from the U.S. have an added benefit: They are exempt from the local value-added tax as long as they export the items they buy. In addition, tour participants escape the high shipping costs that make it prohibitive to send one or two pieces back to the States. “Container shipping is included in the tour – our participants can buy in quantity since there is no extra charge for shipping merchandise home.”

“Hunting for antiques is always fun,” according to Conrad, “but antiquing in Central Europe is a rare kind of adventure you don’t find in the U.S.” The group will comb through the biggest flea markets in Germany and the Czech Republic, both located in medieval towns. “We will also be visiting two castles that are loaded with antiques and a dealer who has set up shop in an ancient monastery,” according to Conrad. “The ambience and charm make antiquing in Central Europe an unusual delight.”

The Heart of Europe Tour is designed to take the stress out of shopping for antiques. “We take care of shipping, customs and other details so participants can focus on ‘the hunt,’” says Conrad.

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