by Lou Mancinelli
Nashville, Cincinnati, Cleveland. Add Boston, Washington, D.C., and parts of Connecticut, and the list resembles a small tour for a rock band. Instead, it’s only some of the 25 antique shows Priscilla Boyd Angelos used to attend each year.
When her parents first opened Meetinghouse Antique Shop at 509 N. Bethlehem Pike in Fort Washington in 1959, they traveled to antique shows up and down the East Coast while raising their family. Located in the old Whitemarsh Friends School, which her parents renovated, the store focused on collecting rare colonial-era items.
After more than 60 years in business, on Aug. 17 the store relocated, with a new name, Boyd’s Antiques, much closer to the Hill at 1510 Bethlehem Pike, across the street from an 18th-century building that last hosted Sorella Rose Restaurant and was once the Springfield Hotel, where the Flourtown Farmers Market moved in September from just a few blocks away.
Angelos and her brother, Jonathan Horn Boyd, bought the antique shop from their parents in 1987. She has run the shop by herself, at times with the help of a few trusted shop sitters, since her brother died of brain cancer in 2002.
“I’ve spent every day of my life there,” Angelos said of the old store during a recent interview. She was born and married there, raised her children in the home and nursed her father there during his final years. “My kids laugh that I’m so boring.”
Her parents, Dolores and Irvin Sr., also owned Fyfe and Boyd Funeral Home at 7047 Germantown Ave. in Mt Airy, which they sold in 1969 to focus on antiques. When Angelos and her brother purchased the shop, they inherited a solid block of clients. Angelos has never attended an antique auction. The shows she goes to, much less frequently now, are for selling.
However, that hunt for rare quality antiques, with a back story, is one she’s involved in every day. At 55, Angelos is internet savvy and uploads photos of the Boyd’s collection to her website daily. One of the most recent is a set of nine American Indian clubs that on first glance look more like very old bowling pins. Two are painted blood red. The paint is original.
While Angelos’ entrance into professional antique buying and selling is rooted in love, it wasn’t her love for rare, old, special desks, chairs, lamps and the like that brought her into the business. Instead when she went away to study Fine Arts at the University of Delaware in the late 1970s, she was madly in love with her then-boyfriend.
She’d met Albert Angelos at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School when she was 16. Her father said if she planned to drop out, she should plan to become an antique dealer, working every day in his store. (Two Angelos daughters are now both in their 20s and work downtown.)
Working alongside her father, Angelos learned from his interactions with clients. He was always accommodating, believed he worked for his clients and charged a fair price. Her mother tended the shop, was personable, and her father “was a killer salesman.” Talking with Angelos, you get the same feeling. She knows what she’s talking about, is gentle with her knowledge and still enthusiastic.
“If you came in, you left with something,” Angelos recalled of her father’s abilities. He knew how to match people with their styles, a trait Angelos herself relies on. One of her favorite pieces is a 22-inch punch bowl in the Canton style, or Chinese export porcelain.
Angelos enjoys educating customers on what makes different pieces different prices. One item in Boyd’s window front, a $400 chest, is made of country pine from Pennsylvania. Another in the store is a $1400 chest-on-chest, essentially one chest on top of another, made of walnut in Philadelphia in 1770.
Age, different woods, details, whether the brass is original, all make up the equation. Sometimes Angelos buys back things her father sold years ago to people whose children may come in searching for antiques that match their own style. “Anybody can buy something over at Home Goods,” she said, “but these are conversation pieces.”
About three weeks ago a man pulled up the driveway at the Meetinghouse Antique Shop and asked if this property would ever go on the market. As it happened, Angelos, who has lived in Ambler with her family for 15 years, was in the process of listing the home with a realtor. The next day the man bought the home.
Angelos, who says she runs into people from high school or whom she’s known for years nearly every day, received a call from a Chestnut Hill electrician who was looking for a storefront. They renovated the interior, and in a matter of weeks Boyd’s Antiques opened at its new Bethlehem Pike location.
For more information visit boydsantiques.com.