Up your antique game

Carina Marx, Senior Staff Reporter

photo of antique statues of children and lamps
Antiquing in New Orleans can help you find some hidden gems, such as this display at Fischer-Gambino. (Carina Marx)

There’s no doubt college students in New Orleans don’t consider going antiquing very often, but New Orleans has a rich history of centuries-old, family-run antique stores. Antiquing in the French Quarter or on Magazine Street is a great way to try to familiarize yourself with the history of New Orleans beyond Bourbon Street. 

There are a number of different working definitions for the term “antique,” but in order for an item to be legally considered an antique, it must be over 100 years old. Other working definitions of antiques include that an item must be of a particular beauty, rarity or from before the Industrial Revolution.

Antiquing gained traction in the U.S after World War II when many Americans were nostalgic for an earlier time, though the art of collecting older items traces back all the way to Renaissance-era elites purchasing ancient Greek and Roman art. New Orleans — with its vast and unique history — was in the perfect position to become an antique haven.

New Orleans has many local antiques, ranging from Renaissance-era furniture to notable Mardi Gras throws from past parades. As antique culture grew, many antique stores started importing international items as well, creating an eclectic tale of world history through statues and jewelry. It is now possible to find antiques from anywhere imaginable. 

Some antique stores have become famous for their selections. M. S. Rau has paintings from world-famous artists such as Norman Rockwell. Many of their items can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Likewise, Keil’s Antiques has furniture dating back to the reign of French King Louis XVI. These stores can also serve as museums for the casual antique browser, as their items tend to be valuable.

If you’re looking to explore some antique stores that are more friendly for a college budget, check out some of these recommendations.

David’s Antiques and Jewelry

322 Royal St.

David’s is a jewelry-focused antique store with everything from fun, small fleur-de-lis charms to beautiful, painstakingly created rings with scenery etched into the stone. Arcade highly recommends their clearance section, which has all kinds of jewelry and stones for reasonable prices. If you are looking to spend a little more, check out their Afghan collection or their VooDoo stones, which change color. David’s is next door to Cafe Beignet, so after you’re done browsing their extensive jewelry collection, you can stop by for a coffee.


637 Royal St.

Fischer-Gambino is best known for its lighting selection, with hundreds of vintage lamps and chandeliers. If you’re not in the market for lighting, they have all kinds of furniture and art at a range of prices. You can find some exciting and unique wall art for your dorm, some small figurines for your desk or some beautiful throw pillows for your off-campus house. If you’re looking to get even funkier with your purchases, get a frog-shaped pen holder or a box shaped like an alligator. If you want to find something silly, Fischer-Gambino has you covered.

Secondline Arts & Antiques

1209 Decatur St.

If you’re into insects, this store is for you. Their collection of pressed and framed butterflies, beetles and other insects are beautiful and perfectly priced. You can find a framed bat if you look hard enough. If bugs are not your style, Secondline also serves as a shop for New Orleans artists to sell their work. You can pick up a plate or a glass made from recycled materials to support local art and have a talking piece for your next get-together. 

These are just three of many antique shops around New Orleans. If you’re not sure where to start, take a walk down Royal Street or Magazine Street and go into whatever store calls your name. You’re bound to find something that looks just as exciting as its history is.