Hudson Valley antique dealers
share commonly asked questions.
by Rochelle Riservato
The world of antiques and collectibles runs the gamut from the warm and fuzzy memories of toys and home décor to the authentic, almost unaffordable pieces auctioned off at premier auction houses or sold at high-end antique shops. Luckily, the Hudson Valley offers a wonderful selection of shops that specialize in what the market desires and what their customers love the most. These same shop owners also realize that many people have a wide range of questions about this genre called “antiques” and the array of merchandise it includes.
SO WE ASKED SEVERAL SHOP OWNERS AND ANTIQUE COLLECTORS TO SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE ON THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED BY THEIR PATRONS—LOVERS OF THE OLD.
Q. Where do you find your stuff?
A. “I look far and wide and shop wherever I am. I take vacations to shopping venues and am willing to carry heavy items long distances if the price is right. I hunt antique shops, auctions, and barn and estate sales—mostly in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Much of my inventory is from my house, and I’ll tell you that having a small house forces one to ‘edit’ often. I find ‘new’ old stuff I just have to own, buy it for myself and then, unfortunately, something has to go—so it ends up being in Downtown, which allows me to have a constant flow of new inventory. Also, many times customers will come to me with high-end pieces that they’ve inherited and outgrown. I’m always on the hunt for primitive, old painted pieces of furniture (chests, cupboards, tables), English Ironstone, paintings, and more as I specialize in a gamut—from primitive to vintage industrial pieces.”
Ron Sharkey, Downtown Antiques, Accord. 845-706-1070.
Q. I have a Roseville vase that I inherited from my aunt. Someone told me that there are fakes around of this maker. How do I tell if mine is authentic or not?
A. “I give classes on antiques and collectibles, and a question I hear a lot is ‘what is my item worth and how old is it?’ A good example is Roseville pottery, which are being reproduced—from the original Roseville pieces mostly made in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the fakes are marked the same way as the originals—however one big difference is if you look at the bottom of an original, it is the color of the clay (yellowish) whereas the new ones are glazed the same color as the top (blue, green, etc). Also new pieces are not finished as well and the painting of the flowers is often not done quite as well, either. Value? Original Roseville pieces can fetch between $100 and $200 whereas the new, reproduced pieces should only be priced no more than $20.”
Walter Marquez, president of Ulster County Antique Association and owner-manager at Water Street Market Antiques, New Paltz. 845-255-1403.
Q. Do you know the background of this antique?
A. “I find that once a customer has chosen a piece to purchase, they want to know something about it. Such as: where it came from, if I knew the owner, what time period it was made. Since much of my early merchandise was from my actual family heritage, I was able to give the buyer a story about it. They love that. It seems like buying an antique is more than just procuring something for one’s home; it’s as if people love to know that their new acquisition had another life—a history—and can be revived to give meaning and significance to another’s life.”
Michael Cacchio, Dead Relatives Antiques and Gifts, High Falls. 845-255-5036 or 845-658-9613. Search Dead Relatives on Facebook.
Q. I’ve been told that veneered furniture is not as valuable as solid wood furniture. Is this true?
A. “Veneer is a thin layer of wood glued down to other woods. And yes, many people think veneered furniture is of lesser quality than pieces made of solid wood. But, veneer is not a modern invention. The use of veneer goes back nearly 4,000 years. Early forms of veneer were found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Much of the century-old royal furnishings used complex veneer construction. Craftsmen sought boards with fine grains—such as the fork of a mahogany tree with elaborate ‘flame’ grain or a walnut tree knot that offers a fancy ‘burl’ design. Veneering allows magnificent grains to be glued to non-attractive wood—resulting in a durable, stunning product. The value really depends on if you’re comparing post-1970s, industrial thin-veneered furniture with older pieces that used thicker, more durable veneers. To answer the question about value and quality…As Oscar Wilde said, ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple.’ The history of veneer on furniture is a long and honorable tradition, and the answer depends on workmanship, condition, and thickness of the veneer itself.”
John McMahon, Rose Hill Antiques, Accord. Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11am-5pm or by appointment. 845-626-7155. rosehillantiques.com
Q. Have you seen a change in the popularity of different eras of antique merchandise? For example, once mahogany or oak pieces were in vogue and sought after and now, perhaps, you are seeing a change to another era?
A. “Fancy Victorian or heavy, dark, carved pieces aren’t as popular as they used to be, by a long shot, and we don’t even stock those styles in our store. Although mid-century modern has been all the rage and highly collectible—our taste tends to run to the more basic primitive, painted pieces with simple, classic lines, and little ornamentation. We find customers prefer pieces that are utilitarian in nature—basic farm tables, nice solid trunks and pie safes, cupboards and cabinets...things that are useful, as opposed to just taking up space and looking pretty. That good old, worn paint finish can’t be replicated, and it meshes well with more modern pieces in an urban interior. A lot of our pieces go off to new homes in the city, where they’re creatively put to use in untraditional ways. We love that!”
Kim Mathison, 768 Main, Margaretville. 845-586-6166. 768main.com
Q. I have a home with contem-porary furnishing. Is it okay to mix in antiques and vintage finds?
A. Your home should reflect your life and the way you live, and, yes, adding antiques to your current furnishings will add timeless style to your home and a sense of history. Modern interiors and spaces with contemporary furnishings feel warmer and more like homes when you add a few pieces that have patina, family memories, some history, and age. Our secret to mixing old and new is color. We create smooth transitions with color as the common thread. Pairing unlikely pieces together like a vintage sofa and modern pillows gives a room personalized character. Simple collections of antiques always add charm, even in the smallest of spaces. Mixing different styles of antiques with vintage and new furnishings will allow you to avoid a style cliché. If you see something you love, old or new, you can always find a place for it in your home. Just remember a well-edited room should look as if it’s been collected over time and newer isn’t always better.”
Heidi Hill-Haddard, HiHo Home Market and Antique Center. Gardiner. 845-255-1123. hihohome.com
Q. Do you think that the media, such as celebrity magazines and shows, sway the buyers to what’s the “it” factor in collecting and following trends?
A. “Yes and no. While magazines and TV shows certainly influence short-term buying trends and shine attention on particular items, I find that most of the items that our customers are drawn to have no expiration date. When I hunt for items for the shop, I have no shopping list in mind. It’s whatever catches my fancy and what I respond to intuitively. And our customers are the same way. They know when they come in that if we’ve given display space to a mid-century lamp, a 1940s dog painting, or a Sixties Op-Art dress, it’s because we thought it was cool and that they might think so too. The Mystery Spot is different from traditional antique shops in that four of our seven rooms are devoted exclusively to vintage clothing and records. A great vintage dress or men’s suit will never go out of style. And we totally relate to vinyl junkies!”
Laura Levine, Mystery Spot Antiques, Phoenicia. 845-688-7868. mysteryspotantiques.com
Q. With the economy being what it is, has that made a difference in the bidding and the final price a “lot” goes for? Also, have you experienced a difference in the type of merchandise that people are coming to auctions for—let’s say than a decade ago?
A. “Today’s market is very strange—we’ve lost the purchaser who bought middle-of-the-road and necessity items. Our market now is comprised of people who are still buying the high-end items—but they want the middle and low-end items at a low price. People are still coming out for their Saturday evening auction ‘social event,’ still enjoying themselves, and occasionally purchasing something because they like it or are in the business and looking to resell. Many sellers want their items gone “yesterday”, and still want top dollar for their items—and in today’s market this is not going to happen. There’s at least a 30 percent price reduction from ten years ago. At George Cole Auctions your dollar buys you more than any place else. Remember—we sell the earth and everything attached.”
George Cole, George Cole Auctions, Red Hook. 845-758-9114. georgecoleauctions.com
Q. Do you carry hats for dogs?
A. “I have hand-selected vintage clothing at thrift-store prices—funky clothing and accessories from 1940 to 1980 for both men and women, including a collection of vintage Missoni neckties. And yes, I do have hats for dogs. I’m a retired stylist who will help you put together a look guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Of course, I also carry a full assortment of vintage everything. Lots of vintage jewelry and character collectibles. Boop-boop-a-doop—not to forget my signature Betty Boop collection!”
Elizabeth Bloom, Soiled Doves, Rosendale, usually 12-6pm. 845-658-2315. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I no longer want to just collect things—I now want to collect things that are still old, but something I can use. Do you have merchandise that still gives that old-time feeling but is more utilitarian—such as old renovation materials or useable kitchen gadgets?
A. “I’ve seen a change in what people come in for. Instead of non-utilitarian accessories or collectibles, our customers want small accessories that can actually be used—they no longer seem to look for items to sit on shelves unless it happens to be a particular high-end collectible that they are scouting around for. But in that case, it’s more like a treasure hunt for them—something rare and valuable. Predominantly, the trend has transitioned into people looking for early iron, heat grates, decorative bracketry, and household applications to do authentic home renovations…such as old door knobs, hardware, latches, locks, catches, and drawpulls. As far as function, we have a variety of furnishings that sell because they are affordable and functional—and that’s what people want now. Something they can use.”
Roger Hoffman, Hoffman’s Barn Sale, Old Farm Road, Red Hook, Friday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, Sunday 10am-5pm, or by appointment. 845-758-5668.
Q. Can you do better [on the price]?
A. “Most antique dealers usually can and do, allowing a bigger discount to other dealers but usually 10 percent to the general public. The discount depends on how much was paid for the item and how long we’ve had it. The longer we’ve had it, the more we want to sell it and generally the bigger the discount! Other questions frequently asked are, ‘How old is it?’ and ‘What is it made from?’ I always ask questions about items I’m interested in when visiting other shops—it’s a good way to learn and then you can pass on your knowledge to your customers. It is impossible to know about everything in the antique field but dealers never stop wanting to learn more.”
Joan Castka, From the Grapevine, Main Street, Hurley. 845-331-4852.
Q. Where did you get that!?
A. “People are always asking us where we find things. Honestly, the search is never ending, and everywhere we go we are constantly looking for that fabulous piece of furniture or object to add into our mix of inventory. 20th Century furnishings are our specialty, and the hunt is getting harder because of its popularity among collectors and designers. Yes, we look for the big-name pieces like Eames, Dunbar, Nelson, and more, but we also like to mix in items that simply possess exceptional style. Our general rule is to buy only things that we would put into our own home. We have to love each and every piece.”
John Krenek, co-owner of Spruce Design + Decor, High Falls. 845-687-4481. sprucedesigndecor.com