Adventures Picking in Germany

This Sunday we went to a Wiesbaden trödelmarkt or flohmarkt (flea market in German). Wiesbaden is a large city, about 160 miles from Ramstein, situated in central western Germany, part of the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region, a metropolitan area with a combined population of about 5.8 million people. It’s one of the oldest spa towns in Europe.

We arrive a little before 8 a.m.; the FlohMarkt was set up in a Real parking lot and was a rather large affair with about ten rows of ten booths, not including the many food trucks selling brats, wursts, sausages, and a plethora of other snacks. The temperature was in the low 50’s and a light blanket of fog hugged the ground, but that didn’t seem to dampen spirits, or keep shoppers at home. After an initial browse down a few aisles, a stint of rain sent us scurrying to the closest food tent for some pommes frites where I tried curry ketchup for the first time. I highly recommend trying curry ketchup and will have to make it a staple in my pantry from now on.

The first purchase we made was a wooden red wagon, probably made in the 1950s. It really came in handy as the morning progressed and our treasures piled up. We bought this wagon from a vendor named Michael, whom Tim had bought items from before. Michael gave us his business card and invited us to his barn that is full of antiques and close to Kaiserslautern. That will be for another day, for sure.

Tim purchased an old painted map, titled Nassovia Comitatus (Nassau) by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, (1571-1638 approx.), printed in Amsterdam. Blaeu was a well-known Dutch cartographer, atlas maker and publisher.

Tim also obtained a couple of framed oil paintings, one from 1937. We saw a lot of hand woven rugs, some nice sized one’s going for around 65 euros, but we weren’t drawn to any of them in particular. There were some eclectic and unique items, such as a large decorative airplane, a red mini truck, and sturdy old benches made out of hearty slabs of wood.

I zeroed in on a few Hoffmann starch boxes that I really like. I started collecting them when we were stationed in Bavaria years ago. According to Wikipedia, Hoffmann's Stärkefabriken (English: Hoffman's Starch Factories) was a German company that produced starch and food chemicals. It was founded in 1850 and ceased operations in 1990. It was the oldest industrial company in Bad Salzuflen, North Rhine-Westphalia-area of Germany. The reason I like these boxes so much is because of the cat logo. Fedor Flinzer, born in 1832, was an author, educator and one of the greatest German illustrators, called the Raphael of Cats, who created the “cat” brand for Hoffmann’s Starch.

Among the finds of the day were a few metal grape baskets; these vintage metal containers were worn on the back of vineyard workers while they picked grapes, throwing them over their shoulders. Most metal grape baskets date from around 1900. We’ve come across quite a few, some with their original leather straps and most of them have a nice patina. Many people use them for storing logs for the fireplace or put them in an entryway filled with umbrellas, walking sticks, baseball bats, or tennis rackets.

Tim came across a stack of ornate, antique clock face frames. These frames were made using a technique known as repoussé or repoussage, it is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief.

We had a wonderful time “picking” at this flohmarkt and enjoyed a bit of exercise and fresh air. I must remember next time to bring some gloves, a scarf, and wear comfortable shoes. It is also recommended to bring a wagon or shopping bags, and some German coins to pay the attendant that’s usually monitoring the restroom trailer. Until our next adventure. Auf wiedersehen!