Antiques in Ulster County New York

Hartmann Antiques New Paltz, New York

Looking for a dresser made with real wood instead of meatloaf and glue? One with drawers that roll smoothly and gently? Or a table that speaks of its maker’s pride of craftsmanship with carved legs and beautiful grain? How about a bookcase of real mahogany, perhaps with glassed-in shelves, or a new bed frame, graceful, with elegant lines?

Discover the skill of yesterday’s craftsmen and the beauty of the distinctive furniture, jewelry and other durable goods they made from the raw, and improved with fine carvings and functional embellishments. The Skylands region burgeons with antiques and collectible shops. A sampling is represented here.

For the uninitiated, one dealer says that “antique” is over 100 years old; “vintage” is more than 50; and “collectible” is a series. “Primitive” is a word that creates confusion. A primitive is an item that someone usually made at home out of necessity. A popular fantasy seems to be that the woman of the family had to bug the man to go make her a cupboard or table. Eventually he did, using wood from around the farm. He often used more than one kind of wood to make a piece ­ cherry and pine were a common combination. “A guy made it to do the horse-shoeing and he uses it for 80 years. It’s left in the barn and when the house is sold, it’s found. Each one is different because they made it for their purpose,” says Kerry Konopka, owner of Hartmann Antiques in Lafayette. One sign of an older piece with quality craftsmanship is “dovetailing,” a technique to interlock two boards. The dovetails on one board were cut to fit into cut-outs on the second board. It was all done by hand.

Kerry and Jim Konopka, the proud owners of Hartmann Antiques, have been in Lafayette for 20 years, first in the co-op Mill behind them and, for the past ten, on the lower level of the Chocolate Goat. They deal in “early country pine primitive furniture” ­ all American-made pine and cherry antiques from the early to mid 1800s ­ and uphold the tradition of the shop’s owners for the first 48 years, Kerry’s parents. Kerry’s father taught his son-in-law Jim how to refinish furniture. At 91, he still wants to see what’s going on. True passion never dies.
“I’ve grown up with this business so I have the eye for what to buy. I’ve kept my mom’s early country look,” Kerry says. “There’s a look and a finish to American furniture that Canadian and European don’t have.” That includes the thickness of the wood and its character.

Inside the shop there are true antiques, like the cherry dresser with a dove-tail top with bread board ends, dovetailed and chanfered drawers and a bracket base ­ a distinctly American piece, and an early two-piece mixed wood cupboard that would span the width of most walls. There’s a copper sink once covered in paint that Jim removed. He removes veneer from mirrors to expose their beautiful wood.

“It took 48 years to get this business where it is today. My things are antique. None of my furniture is considered to be collectible or mediocre in age. My tables are original. I don’t reproduce tables or anything else. When someone buys it they can take it into their home and love it to death,” says Kerry. Hartmann Antiques has repeat customers from the ’60s and ’70s. The Konopkas buy from auctions, estate sales and “pickers,” who know what they like.

Story by Mary Jasch