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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