Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Combe, Taylor

COMBE, TAYLOR (1774–1826), numismatist and archaeologist, was born in 1774, and was the eldest son of Dr. Charles Combe, the physician and numismatist [q. v.] He was educated at Harrow and at Oriel College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. on 5 June 1795, M.A. 10 July 1798 (Catal. Oxf. Grad.) In 1803 he obtained an appointment in the British Museum, and superintended the collection of coins and medals. In 1807 he became keeper of the department of antiquities, the coins still remaining in his charge. In 1814 he was sent to Zante, to carry out the purchase of the Phigaleian marbles. Combe held his keepership till his death, which took place, after a long illness, at the British Museum on 7 July 1826. He was buried on 14 July, in the family vault in the Bloomsbury burial-ground. The writer of the obituary in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' speaks of him as 'strict in his principles, warm in his friendships, and kind to those who sought information.' Combe's extensive library of classical and numismatic books, together with a collection of prints and some of his manuscripts, was sold by auction at Sotheby's on 7 Dec. 1826 and eleven following days. The sum realised was 1,879l. 15s. 6d. A medal of Combe, by Pistrucci and W. J. Taylor, was struck after his death: obverse, bust of Combe, to left; reverse, inscription within wreath. A specimen in copper is in the British Museum. Combe married, in 1808, Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Edward Whitaker Gray. As a numismatist and archaeologist Combe did much useful and accurate work, which is chiefly embodied in the following publications, issued officially by the Museum trustees:

  1. 'Veterum populorum et regum nurni qui in Museo Britannico adservantur,' London, 1814, 4to. This catalogue of the Museum Greek coins is now being gradually superseded by the new 'Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum,' begun in 1873 and still in progress. Some rectifications in Combe's catalogue are made by Dr. Imhoof-Blumer in the 'Zeitschrift für Numismatik,' i. 328.
  2. 'Description of the Anglo-Gallic Coins in the British Museum,' London, 1826, 4to, with engraved plates. The volume was edited and published after his death by Mr. Edward Hawkins.
  3. 'A Description of the Collection of Ancient Terracottas in the British Museum,' London, 1810, 4to, with forty engraved plates.
  4. 'A Description of the Collection of Ancient Marbles in the British Museum,' London, 4to—parts i-iv. (1812-20), and a considerable portion of part v. (1826), which was completed and published after his death by E. Hawkins. The 'Description of the Ancient Marbles,' was carried on by Hawkins, Cockerell, and Birch (parts vi-xi. 1830-61).

Combe was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1806, and was secretary to it from 1812 to 1824, during which period he edited the 'Philosophical Transactions.' He joined the Society of Antiquaries in 1796, became its director in 1813, and superintended the publication of the latter portions of the 'Vetusta Monumenta.' He contributed many articles to the 'Archæologia.'

[Gent. Mag. vol. xcvi. pt. ii: (1826), pp. 181–82; Combe's Works and Manuscripts in British Museum; Edwards's Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, 392, 399; Priced Sale Catalogue of Combe's Library, 1826.]

W. W.