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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 31, July 30 , 2000, Article 3

BREEN'S CYNIC'S DICTIONARY 

   In response to my question about Walter Breen's "Cynic's 
   Dictionary, David Fanning writes: "I don't know the answer to 
   this question, though I've wondered about the Dictionary fairly 
   often.  I was a good friend of Walter's and stayed with him for 
   three weeks ten years ago, during which time I read much of 
   the manuscript/typescript. 

   I have copies of a number of entries, mostly included by him 
   in letters to me.  I got out of the coin business in 1990 and so 
   don't know if he published any of the definitions in numismatic 
   publications around that time (except in the Legacy interview). 

   In a letter to me written on Sept. 28, 1989, he wrote "I have 
   been working on this project since 1982; it is complete but in 
   process of updating.  My agent is enthusiastically showing it to 
   various NY publishers, almost certain that one or another will 
   buy it.  The latest news is that Oxford Univ. Press wanted it 
   but that someone upstairs (outranking their editor in chief) was 
   scared off by its extremely controversial political positions and 
   its use of four-letter words.  It exposes every sacred cow I can 
   find as baloney in drag." 

   One of the definitions I have is for "Coin Dealer," which reads 
   as follows: 

      coin dealers n. phr.  Apt to believe themselves prey of 
      cherrypickers.  Nevertheless, many brag to their peers 
      about the rarities they just cherrypicked from some walk-in 
      yokel.  Prov. 20:14; Isaiah 24:16. 

        Even some of the least educated display the title 
        "Professional Numismatis," like Eeyore's tail pinned to 
        his rump.  Their pitfalls are greed, dishonesty, and stupidity. 
        God bless the rare exceptions. 

   I lost touch with his family after he died and so don't know 
   what became of this book.  I'd very much like to read it." 

BLAKE & AGNELL GOLD BAR 

   John W. Adams writes: "In the last issue, Mr. Leonard 
   expresses his doubts about a specific Blake & Agnell gold 
   bar. Be it said that there are rebuttals to all the points he 
   makes - i.e. other Western gold bars contain misspellings 
   (e.g. Parsons, e.g.Schultz), other gold bars/coins of the period 
   are 6% or more light (see Eckfeldt & Dubois) and other 
   known bars presumed to be good do not look like some of 
   those found in the wreck of the Central America (e.g. Moffat). 

   These points made, Mr. Leonard could still be right in his 
   contention. What we learned from this extended controversy 
   is that the most reliable means of testing any given piece is a 
   non-destructive assay; there is a fingerprint to the composition 
   of these items that appears to be definitive. 

   Blake & Agnell aside, I would like to urge E-Sylum readers to 
   take a few hours to decipher the whole argument.  All that is 
   required (other than the time) is the last two issues of the AJN 
   (obtainable from the A.N.S.) and the tape of the Great Debate 
   (obtainable from the A.N.A.). The points to be learned from 
   Mr.Buttrey's and Mr. Hodder's presentations, along with 
   comparisons thereof, are so many as to amount to a graduate 
   course in numismatics. Note that there may be one more 
   chapter to be written: Mr.Buttrey is being sued for libel by 
   Stack's and John Ford;  Mr. B's most obvious defense will be 
   to prove that his various allegations are the truth." 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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