Online-Only Auction of The Estate of Gary Combs on April 23, 2020
1799 Letter from John Adams as President Achieves $8,125
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NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle was honored to auction property from the Autograph Seeker: The Estate of Gary Combs. The online-only auction on April 23, 2020 offered a wide range of autographs by major historical figures, composers, scientists, artists and entertainers.
With competitive bidding, the auction totaled a successful $135,706 against an estimate of $105,750-161,150 with an exceptional 94% sold by lot and 100% by value.
The top lot of the day was an April 1799 letter from President John Adams to Secretary at War James McHenry recommending several soldiers during his buildup of troops during the XWZ Affair. In fine condition, the letter found favor with bidders, selling for $8,125, surpassing its estimate of $5,000-8,000.
The Manhattan autograph dealer Gary Combs was top of his field for decades and known for finding unique and special manuscripts, letters, and documents for many prominent collectors. Combs had an industry training that will bring many a collector back to the good old days. Combs started his career in the mid-1970s as a salesman in the legendary Book Department at B. Altman & Company, an eight floor department store located on Fifth Avenue at 34th Street in Manhattan. For decades the store had a flourishing antiquarian book, map and autograph business which must have provided a wonderful environment to learn the trade from within. Combs was Altman's main buyer at the time the store closed in the late 1980s and then opened his eponymous company which specialized in the sale of autograph items by major historical figures, composers, scientists, artists and entertainers.
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