Joe F. Archer, 80, antiques dealer


Joe F. Archer, a well-known Carroll County antiques dealer and collector of Americana, died Monday of cancer at his Westminster home. He was 80.

Mr. Archer and his wife of 55 years, the former Mary Chilcoat Storey, who died last year, had operated Archer's Antiques in a shop on Baltimore Boulevard near Westminster for over 50 years.

In recent years, they operated the business out of their home.

The Archers also collected 18th and 19th century American decorative arts, including clocks, furniture, silver, paintings and porcelains.

"It was a very diverse collection yet one of very high quality," said Richard Opfer, a friend of 30 years and founder of Richard Opfer Auctioneering Inc. in Timonium. "They lived frugally and simply, and their collections were the most important thing."

Described by Mr. Opfer as a "friendly bear of a man with a big smile," Mr. Archer was highly respected not only for his knowledge of antiques but his appreciation for an unusual or beautifully made piece.

"Joe had a lot of insight. They both did, and they learned by being in the business," Mr. Opfer said.

"When they started out after World War II, he asked his wife, 'Why spend a dollar on an item?' It was better to spend $5 and get a better item," Mr. Opfer recalled. "A good item would always appreciate even though you might have to put it away for several years. He was in no hurry to buy today and sell tomorrow. It was a philosophy that he followed throughout his life."

Mr. Archer was also known for his sharp eye and competitiveness at sales and auctions.

"He could be real tough and, if he wanted something, he was willing to fight for it," Mr. Opfer said. "They both were a real force in the business "

Born and educated in Rome, Ga., Mr. Archer worked as an electrician for several years before serving in an Army engineering squadron in Europe during World War II. He was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant in 1945.

"He was something of a wheeler-dealer even during the war," Mr. Opfer said, laughing. "He was able to get cartons of cigarettes and then resold them to the troops. On the way back home, he gambled aboard ship and won a few thousand dollars and with that money built his home."

Mr. Archer was a member of the Door to Virtue Lodge No. 46 A.F. & A.M. of Westminster and was a member of Westminster United Methodist Church.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Pritts Funeral Home and Chapel, 412 Washington Road in Westminster.

A son, Bill Archer, died 1995.

He is survived by a niece, Patsy B. Akin of Duluth, Ga.; special friends Timothy and Pat Roche of Hampstead, Kathy Opfer of Timonium and Will Atkinson of Westminster.

Pub Date: 5/27/98

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