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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 10, March 5, 2000, Article 8

CRITIC'S CORNER: BREEN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA 

   In response to D. Wayne Johnson's remarks on Breen's 
   numbering system, Michael Schmidt writes: 
   "You liked this!??" 

   "I discussed this numbering system once with Walter.  He said 
   he had nothing to do with it and that it was all the publisher's 
   idea.  A straight-through numbering system is very foolish.  The 
   numbers bear no real relationship to the coins they are 
   cataloging.  Yes, they left empty numbers for later additions, 
   but at the end of each denomination, not at the end of each 
   series.  Take the 1914/13 buffalo nickel.  This is a major new 
   discovery that deserves its own Breen number, but the next 
   open number comes AFTER all of the Jefferson nickels.  In 
   fact, since the overdate was discovered several years ago, its 
   number would now be contained WITHIN the Jefferson nickel 
   numbers. 

   When it happens with older series the problem gets even worse. 
   The 1796 NC-7 large cent has a new obverse and the only 
   stemless wreath reverse for that date.  Its Breen number would 
   be mixed in with the copper plated zinc Lincoln cents. Secondly, 
   even though empty numbers were left they are rapidly being 
   consumed by the new issues each year.  What do you do 
   when the empties have been all used up?  Re-number 
   everything?  Or does next year's Jefferson nickel just get a 
   Breen number in the 8300 range?  No, the numbering system 
   in the Breen book is hopelessly flawed." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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