"Antique-like" Prints Now Available Online: http://www.HalKramer.com Captures a Historical, Affordable Look

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Artwork company stands out with unique pieces & master craftsmanship creating "antique" looking prints at a fraction of the cost of originals. Previously for the professional decor market, these prints have now been made available to the general public. “Master artisans” isn’t the way many businesses characterize themselves these days, but it’s the most apt description, and the secret to success, for one small, family-owned Chicago company.

An anomaly in today’s splashy, cookie cutter, need-it-now culture, H. Hal Kramer Co. (http://www.halkramer.com), a Chicago-based home wall décor company specializing in antique art reproductions, is carrying on a family tradition and keeping a historical craft alive while continuing to thrive and cultivate new fans of its unique product—handcrafted, vintage art known for its fine workmanship, understated elegance and affordable prices. Previously sold to decorators and fine furniture stores, the prints are now available online at the company's website.

Hal Kramer founded the company in 1963. Kramer’s family owned an art gallery in Germany and his mother was a talented watercolorist. Kramer, a Holocaust survivor, escaped to the United States on the last boat out of Germany in 1940.

Kramer spent the early part of his career as a road salesman. Always an art lover, when Kramer identified a potential niche for smaller, miniature artwork, he and his wife, Ilene, got to work designing a line of small accessories in the basement of their townhome. The business was born with the design of a single item: a miniature cameo elegantly displayed and framed on an oval mat.

Kramer and Ilene meticulously handcrafted each of the early pieces, and when Kramer brought his first products on the road, he sold more than 100 in the first week. By the 1970s, he had acquired a workshop near Wrigley Field and opened a showroom in the Merchandise Mart. In an ironic twist of fate, a fire that damaged Kramer’s first workshop actually inspired a controlled burning process used for creating aged, one-of-a-kind prints—a technique the company and the art world still use today.

Even today, all of H. Hal Kramer Co.’s artwork is made to order by a master craftsman with decades of experience in antique art reproduction and restoration. The Kramer family workshop, on the north side of Chicago, looks more like an old cobbler’s studio than machine-operated picture frame assembly lines. Kramer’s daughter, Leslie Horwitz, keeps the books, and her husband, Peter Horwitz, is the head craftsman. Ilene Kramer, now in a wheelchair as a result of a stroke, still oversees day-to-day operations as president of the company.

Trained by Kramer, Peter Horwitz masterfully hand ages and antiques each print individually to produce the look and feel of an original lithograph. The company uses only carefully selected solid woods for its picture frames, some of which are uniquely shaped ovals and octagons. Each frame is hand-joined and nailed, and then individually distressed using only the finest, antiqued paints, glazes and finishes. The company’s matting papers, which are acid and lignin free, are always cut to museum standard specifications.

“We’ve stayed true to our original ideals, and our classic, unique pieces continue to enjoy a strong and loyal following among designers and art lovers,” says Peter Horwitz. “Our artwork captures a piece of the past and looks beautiful in both traditional and modern settings.”

Although the H. Hal Kramer Co. began with a single cameo accessory, its framed collection of English and European wall decor today includes more than 1,000 unique pieces. Its reproductions are primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the collection features landscapes, bird and butterfly art, botanical and floral art, golf and polo art, horse and hunt art, children’s wall décor, framed engravings, library and map art and more.

For nearly a half century, H. Hal Kramer Co. has been an exclusive purveyor to the professional interior design and fine furniture trades at the International Home Furnishing Market in High Point, North Carolina. The antique art adorns homes, offices and clubs around the world.


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Joanne Levine
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