Philip Stephen Dubey, who owned a downtown Baltimore antiques business and was a Chinese Export porcelain expert, died of cardiovascular complications Oct. 22 at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 72 and lived in the Otterbein neighborhood.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Dubey was raised in Silver Spring, Linthicum Heights and Lutherville. He was the son of Philip J. Dubey, an insurance executive and his wife, Dorothy, who sold real estate.
He was a 1965 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School and earned a degree in business administration form the University of Maryland College Park. In 2016 he attended Christ Church College, Oxford University.
Mr. Dubey became the personnel manager of Mars Supermarket stores in Baltimore, where he worked from October 1970 until late 1985. He then became personnel manager with the College of Physicians at the University of Maryland Medical School, a post he held until 1991.
He then opened what his family described as his “real love,” an antique store at 807 N. Howard Street, a building he shared with his brother, an architect.
“He overwhelmed me and started buying right and left. Phil started with furniture and moved into Chinese Export porcelain,” said his brother, Brian Madden Dubey, a Timonium resident. "I got crowded out. I told him it takes half and hour to get my desk."
Mr. Dubey’s business expanded into adjoining properties and became Dubey’s Art and Antiques and the Antique Row Stalls, which included nearly 30 smaller displays owned by other dealers.
“He was a positive and upbeat person who was fun to be around and could build strong relationships with his customers,” said an employee, Wilson Hill. “He was pretty much always around, especially on Saturdays and Sundays when the casual shopping crowd stopped by the shop. He liked people and he liked being around them."
His brother, Brian Dubey, also said, “Phil really discovered himself when he was 44. He opened his shop and never looked back. He had been collecting antiques since he was 12 years old and watched as our parents collected Delft plates.”
Mr. Dubey frequented New England auction houses and shopped for his inventory throughout the Middle Atlantic states.
“He liked to buy in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire,” said Wilson Hill. “His also did the Washington Winter Show and the Brandywine Antiques Show in Chadds Ford, Pa. He took a truck and brought furniture, sideboards, tables and chairs and hung art on the walls.”
Mark B. Letzer, the Maryland Historical Society’s executive director, said, “Phil was renowned for his knowledge of Chinese Export porcelain and was often contacted by museum curators who tapped his expertise. He loved the porcelains from the time he was a child and it grew into an obsession. He had extraordinary material that went through his shop.”
Mr. Letzer said that Mr. Dubey often referred his visitors to the Maryland Historical Society, which is also located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.
“He taught me every in and out and nuance of Chinese Export porcelain,” said James J. Plumer, an Alex. Cooper Auctioneers cataloger and appraiser. “We’d go to dinner at Sabatinos or El Salto and talk for hours. He was a big jolly man and loved to educate people about what he was selling. He advised his customers to save up and buy one really great piece.”
Mr. Plumer said that within his field, Mr. Dubey was respected and his knowledge sought by collectors and institutions.
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“He was highly regarded,” said Mr. Plumer. “His reputation brought people to Howard Street. He made contacts at the antique shows and his customers took a card and then spent hours driving to his shop.”
Mark Boultinghouse, a Washington, D.C. antiques appraiser, said, “He had a great sense of humor. He could be dry and he always got to a good punchline quickly. He had a ready smile for you. He was one of the last great antique dealers. There is no one coming up who possessed his level of intelligence and reputation. He had great taste too.”
Mr. Dubey was among the first people to renovate a once dilapidated home in the Otterbein area which the city sold for a token $1. He resided there for more than 40 years.
“Because the Orioles were doing badly he could always find a place to park at night,” said his brother. “He loved living there.”
A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31 at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.