With Cairo in transition, collectors scramble to save a fading era


By Frederick Deknatel Contributor / January 11, 2010

CAIRO: Amgad Naguib is sitting in his garagelike storage space on a side street in the dusty belle epoque heart of downtown Cairo looking to buy junk. “Bikya!” the junk seller yells from his cart on the street outside, which means reusable rubbish. “I get a lot of treasures from bikya,” Mr. Naguib, an artist and collector, says from his garage, which is stuffed with old furniture, vintage advertisements, and stacks of papers and photographs from the early 20th century.

Between the vendors who buy and sell junk and the tourist shops that offer overpriced historical keepsakes – Iraqi 
dinars with Saddam Hussein’s face, fake old photographs, faded postcards – there are other Egyptian collectors, artists, and historians collecting pieces of the past, and not always for profit. Accumulating old objects, whether valuable or not, suggests connection with downtown Cairo’s material past as the area 
undergoes major changes, from the flight of historic institutions to news of investment-driven gentrification.

Read more at the Christian Science Monitor. Also check out Hanna‘s related post, which includes part one of a series of good old postcard pieces.

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