Nikolaiviertel in person: Ilona and Astrid Rohleder – Antiquitäten im Nikolaiviertel

04. July 2024

Between porcelain, Biedermeier furniture and silver chandeliers: sisters Ilona and Astrid Rohleder have been dealing in tangible art in the Nikolai quarter since 1993.

You have been in business for over 30 years now and are one of the most renowned antique dealers in Berlin – but how did it all start?

We’ve both always had a great love of beautiful old things and an interest in art. A few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the early nineties were generally a time of new beginnings and also a time of professional reorientation for both of us. An art dealer friend of ours then suggested we turn our private interest into a new professional career. And then we took the plunge and were offered this retail space by WBM.

In a few words: why did you choose the Nikolai quarter as your location?

It’s just so beautiful and almost small-town quiet as soon as you enter the district. We simply always had the feeling that we belonged here. The whole district is like art you can touch, and that’s exactly what antiques are to us.

And was your range back then the same as it is today?

When we started here, we sold a lot of antique carpets, but over time, porcelain became the main focus. Meissen and, of course, KPM. And that’s where our special expertise and passion lie today. All the decorations and the precision and effort that goes into fine porcelain painting, by hand of course, and in some cases 300 years ago. That is fascinating.

Does everyone in your sector work on their own or do antiques dealers cooperate?

We actually enjoy cooperating and networking with fellow dealers is a real pleasure. You also learn a lot of new things. Many of our collectors also have very special interests and of course you can’t have everything in stock yourself.

You have a lot of regular customers. What brings people back to you again and again?

Especially the customers we have known for a long time and the collectors love good service and if we know what they are looking for, then we are happy to go looking for that special item. And if we find what we are looking for with a colleague, we email the customer photos without obligation and in the end everyone is happy.

And do you ship nationwide or internationally?

We actually have a lot of international customers. For example, we have a very good customer in Japan who deals in Meissen porcelain and who has just bought cups from us again. And of course, here in our region we have the best chances of finding objects for him and then sending them to him.

Is it a fact or a prejudice that antiques are only for older people?

Of course we have many older customers, but young people also enjoy beautiful old pieces. Not mass-produced items but unique pieces with character. Younger people are certainly more receptive to trends and like shopping on the Internet, but unlike buying on EBAY, they can also look at the items in our store. Some details are impossible to capture even with the best photos.

We also think it’s really great when a school class comes in and the students start asking questions about the old items that they’ve never seen before. We are really happy to answer all of them.

One might think that people are perhaps hesitant to visit an antiques dealer or believe they can’t afford it…

Of course that does happen, but it’s actually completely unjustified because you can find something for any budget. We have great old rings for 25 euros, but also rare porcelain for 25,000. What we also notice is that people like to give something old and valuable as a wedding or christening present, a great set of cutlery, for example, or something beautiful made of silver.

What is it like when people come to you to sell something? Or do people prefer selling through auction houses?

We are very happy to buy from private sellers if the item is right for us and we pay very fair prices. Of course, “auctioning” sounds exciting at first, and it can be when bidders bid each other up. But what many people don’t realize is the fees for auction sales. Many auction houses now take 25 to 30% from the seller – and the same again from the buyer – so that as a seller you really give up a lot of money. That’s just something to bear in mind, so we’re always happy when people visit us here and let us make an offer.

Antiquitäten im Nikolaiviertel • Spandauer Str. 29 • 10178 Berlin • Tel.: (030) 241 56 69
Website: • E-Mail: