John Lupia submitted the following information from his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Numismatic Biographies for this
week's installment of his series. Thanks. As always, this is an excerpt with the full article, bibliography and more images available
online. This week's subject is George Thomas McCombe, Jr. -Editor
George Thomas McCombe, Jr. (1856-19??), was born at Lockport, New York, on May 1, 1856, the son of George McCombe (1806?-1881), an
architect, carpenter and builder, and Mary Ann McCombe (-1881). He was educated at Lockport High School. He had two brothers William E. Mc
Combe, cashier at the National Exchange Bank, Lockport, New York, and Frederick J. Mc Combe, a wholesale grocer at Denver, Colorado.
There are many pieces of mail between George T. McCombe and the Chapman Brothers. This article uses a few of them in order to illustrate
salient points for his biographical sketch.
From a letter mailed to the Chapman Brothers on his office stationery we know he worked at the National Exchange Bank at Lockport in the
1880’s gaining him access to a wide variety of coins he handpicked at face value to build up stock as a coin dealer. According to his
biographical sketch published in 1897 he entered the National Exchange Bank at Lockport at an early age serving four years as a clerk and
eight as bookkeeper. Afterwards he was the paying and receiving teller at Niagara County National Bank, Lockport, N. Y., serving in that
capacity for another eight years. Sometime later he travelled to Europe, Asia, Africa, Egypt, Syria, the Holy Land, and around America,
returning home in 1892.
ABOVE: Letter sent by McCombe on his own letterhead and business envelope to the Chapman Brothers to purchase coins postmarked October
29, 8 P. M., 1881, Lockport, New York. He had illustrated printed business envelopes showing the Bust Type introduced in 1796 found on the
half-dime, dime, quarter, half-dollar, and dollar, but the design of the reverse device is closer to that of 1794-1795 Flowing Hair Type
coinage. Courtesy of the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Archive.
In a notice published by Ed Frossard in the March 1881 issue of Numisma we read :
“Catalogue of United States Silver and Copper Coins for sale by G. T. McCombe, Lockport, N. Y.; 1881. Price 10 cts.—Mr McCombe is in
the field as a coin buyer and seller, and his list will be found to cover the entire field of the scarce regular mint issues and Colonial
In the September and November 1881 issues of Numisma he ran two ads on the front page. The first advertising “Monthly Catalogues, giving
buying and selling prices, free.” Here we find his previous marketing strategy of 10 cents an issue is now changed to a free monthly
catalogue. The second advertisement claims to pay the highest prices to collectors wishing to sell their duplicates in U. S. dollars,
halves, quarters, dimes, half dimes, and cents.
His earliest known address is 79 Walnut Street, Lockport, Niagara County, New York. He moved in 1883 to 51 Main Street, Lockport, NY. In
1898, his address is 367 High Street, Lockport, N.Y.
His interest as a coin dealer seems to have faded about 1884 when he took up an interest in the hay industry while still very active as
a banker. Eventually he resigns his banking career in 1892 devoting himself to the hay industry and as a business entrepreneur. His coin
dealership most probable lasted from 1880 to 1884, but continued buying coins as a private collector.
A notice published in the New York Times reported that his house was robbed on September 2, 1888, described as one of the
wealthiest homes in Lockport, the capital of Niagara County, not far from Lake Ontario and the Canadian border.
McCombe seems to fade out of sight, and so far the date of his death has not been discovered.
Any further information on McCombe would be appreciated. Does an obituary exist somewhere? -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
McCombe, Jr. (https://sites.google.com/site/numismaticmallcom/encyclopedic-dictionary-of-numismatic-biographies/mccombe-george-t)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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