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Starozitnosti Shop
An antique shop full of cribs, clocks, and crockery

You're not a crčche enthusiast? There are clocks galore; porcelain figurines; oil lamps; silver tea sets; painted china cabinets; and, Milan's favorites, Králíki cribs in fancy cabinets—the Starozitnosti shop.
Among the colorful pageant of Czech folk figures in one of the Starozitnosti shop nativities (see below, left) is a Krealíki figure of a turbaned Ottoman.
Two ormolu clocks, a carriage clock, and a porcelain statue in the window only hint at the treasures to be found inside the Starozitnosti antique shop near Milan's cottage… It's Saturday morning, and the door to the Starozitnosti antique shop is locked. But Milan Zábranský doesn't seem to worry. "My friend will be here any minute," he says reassuringly, and soon enough, the propriator drives up and shouts a greeting. Miroslav Loupý opens the door to his shop, a plain-white build that gives no hint of the polychrome wonders to be found inside, and time, as it were, comes to a standstill. That's because all of the clocks—and there are myriads of them everywhere you look—are stopped, so as not to grind down any more their vintage wheels. There are gleaming brass French ormolu; arched carriage; wag-on-the-wall; porcelain; wooden-geared; elegant, long, Vienna regulators; and, to your delight, painted and carved cuckoo clocks. Seeing this incredible clock collection—some of these clocks you've only seen in clock books—you're tempted to wonder why you didn't start of cuckoo clock instead of a creche site! But not for long, because Milan has stopped in front of a beautiful Králíki crib. It sits, unceremoniously, on a small wooden box on top of a table, and it is surrounded by—you guessed it—wall clocks and a painted black-and-gold extravaganza that is disguised as a china cabinet. It's busy artwork, however, really does create a most congenial piece, and you could see it fitting nicely in your Victorian home.
Could this marvelous crib be Milan's present to Jana next Christmas? An exquisite example of Starozitnosti's wares.
"Do you like this crib?" Milan asks, you can see his excitement. "I like it very much." And then, with a gleam in his eye he says, "Do you think Jana would like it for Christmas?" So that's how Milan got Jana to let him stuff his house with cribs. He's been giving them to her as presents! We share a laugh, and you make a mental note to ask Milan after next Christmas how Jana liked her present. The crib that just might make it to the Zábranský household is framed in fancy, carved, dark scrollwork (see large photo at top of page), and set against a painted blue background and the outlines of a near eastern city. Green-and-gold palms are everywhere, and under them unfolds the nativity. all around are trumpeters, shepherds, and lots of sheep. Above, on a second level, two shepherds blow their horns, and an angels hangs from a thin wire at upper right.
Could this marvelous crib be Milan's present to Jana next Christmas? An exquisite example of Starozitnosti's wares.
"We must go upstairs," Milan says, as the propriator leads the way through a make-ship opening in a very thick wall and up a flight of stairs lined with more clocks. You are now in the propriator's living quarters, upstairs from the shop, and there seem to be more clocks and cribs here than there are downstairs. What catches your eye is a rather small crib, set in a dark cabinet. It combines Králíki and paper figures, and you recognize the paper figures to be similar to those of a vintage German creche in your collection. It is a depiction of Mary, crowned by a golden orb, with arms outstreched, cradling the Baby Jesus. Joseph stand on the left, and on the right, the cow and ass are see in their manger. What surprises you is how handsome the effect is, how nicely the paper figures work with the hand carved ones. "Maybe I should give Jana this one?" Milan is at it again, teasing me about which crib he should think of bringing home next Christmas.
The simplicity of this Starozitnosti shop crib is more than made up by its fancy frame.
Yes, this would make a marvelous addition to Milan's collection. It's a large crib, set in a light wood, arched, cabinet. It dazzles the eyes with its colorful combination of painted backgrounds and painted Králíki figures, and its three levels. A tall bell tower topped with a Russian onion dome dominates the scene, and, on a smaller dome, is perched… a sheep! Hunters, buglers, and shepherds fill the second and three levels, and on the first, a standing Mary and Joseph attend to the tiny Baby Jesus. A woman holding a dove kneels in the front, and dandies in blue and red breeches approach the Nativity. And there, right in the midst of what could be Czech villagers in native costume, there's an Ottoman in fancy dress holding a spear. You can just see Milan carrying it home.

© 2021

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