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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 11, March 12, 2000, Article 3

CRITIC'S CORNER, CONTINUED: BREEN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA 

   Allan Davisson writes: "Re: Breen's numbering problem: Dalton 
   and Hamer had the same problem. That is why they used the 
   obscure term "bis" when something came along that merited 
   insertion.  Open-ended numbering systems can be problematic 
   as well. Richard Lobel has come up with a new and endlessly 
   open system for numbering English coins but I find it 
   cumbersome and oddly unsatisfying." 

   In contrast, Alan Luedeking writes: "I believe Mr. Schmidt's 
   assessment of Breen's straight-through numbering system was 
   perhaps a trifle harsh; first off, the empties are specifically 
   "reserved for future issues" and are only available after 
   currently circulating issues. No other meaning can possibly 
   be intended. Should a new intra-type item be discovered (such 
   as the cited 1914/13 Buffalo variety), it ought to be given the 
   number 2592.1. If 23 new varieties of a particular coin were to 
   be discovered the number of the last one would simply be 
   XXXX.23. Sub-sub varieties (or die states) could be easily 
   added, such as a XXXX.6.2. The obvious advantage is that 
   the item number is always in order, and you can instantly tell 
   when any item is a  post-Breen discovery. 

   Secondly, the system allows for infinite expansion everywhere. 
   No more large cents located within the Lincoln cents, which 
   Breen, who was a superb mathematician, never intended.  Also, 
   given that the Federal issues are not strictly organized by 
   denomination but by first by metal and then by denomination, 
   (note nickel three-cent pieces occur before silver trimes), 
   straight through numbering makes sense, since it is always easy 
   to find any piece by number, regardless of type.". 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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