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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 8, February 20, 2000, Article 6

CRITIC'S CORNER:  BREEN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA 

   In response to the call for comments on Walter Breen's 
   Encyclopedia, Researcher and author D. Wayne Johnson 
   writes: "Most of my comments are about the illustrations: 

   (1) Placing illustrations beneath the descriptions was a 
   terrible mistake.  Visually the stronger element should 
   be above with the descriptions below; as "art and 
   caption." 

   (2) The illustrations are not lined up, they bounce all 
   over the column; I would have preferred obverse and 
   reverse brought together in the exact center of the 
   column almost, but not quite touching. 

   (3) Breen gathered his photographs from many sources. 
   While he had to use what he got, the density of the 
   photos are more annoying than their haphazard placement 
   in the column width. Perhaps it was not possible to make 
   the photos more uniform density at the time of 
   publication. Now it is possible to do this via computer. 

   (4) The enlargements of the Patterns of 1792 (pages 
   156-157) was a great idea but could have been more 
   artistically treated. The if-it-won't-fit-in-a-column- 
   put-the-reverse-below-and-to-the-right-of-the-obverse 
   school of layout makes a very unattractive unbalanced 
   page. 

   (5) "The Bibliography, Abbreviations, Typographic 
   Conventions" in the appendix was a real catchall. I 
   would have preferred separate charts. The use of the 
   equal sign in this section is somewhat disconcerting. 

   Good Points: 

   (6) I greatly admire Walter's numbering system: serial 
   numbers from 1 up [7,343 items in numbers up to 8035, 
   with just enough open numbers for future issues].  It 
   was sheer genius to organize everything in one system 
   that is simple but very effective.  Future additions 
   are possible without disturbing the existing numbers. 

   (7) I liked the Metrology section and the Inscription 
   Index, both in the front, and the Glossary and the two 
   separate indexes in the back. But the worst problem of 
   all: 

   (8) My pages have separated from the binding. The 
   sections I have used most -- almost every page in the 
   back -- are loose and sticking out from the pages 
   still fastened to the spine.  I have an autographed and 
   inscribed copy that I highly cherish (which now I 
   realize I should have set aside and used a second copy 
   for everyday use)." 

   A couple other subscribers had comments which we'll 
   save for next week.  

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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