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V14 2011 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 32, August 7, 2011, Article 12

E-SYLUM'S BEST: SHELDON'S PHOTO PROJECT

Joel Orosz writes:

Vol 6, No 8, February 23, 2003, "Sheldon's Photo Project"
Dr. Sheldon's other classification system, not so much "Mint State" as "State of Nature."

David Fanning writes: "I was reading an article on the Atlantic Monthly online about Yale's "Sex Week," when, oddly enough, the author started talking about William Sheldon.

[Sheldon is the author of "Early American Cents", the classic reference in the field. His photo project has been discussed previously in The E-Sylum (Volume 3, Number 47, November 12, 2000, among other references) -Editor]

Fanning goes on: "I knew about Sheldon's research, but I was interested in seeing how this person described it:

"...But nudity does figure in another remarkable Yale scandal, one in which I was both exposed and exposer, so to speak, which took place a few blocks north of Skull and Bones, at the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

"This was 'The Great Ivy League Nude Posture-Photo Scandal.' Yale was not alone in being victimized by the posture-photo scandal: just about every Ivy League and Seven Sisters school from the 1930s to the 1960s was inveigled into allowing photos of nude or lingerie-clad freshmen to be taken and then transferred to the 'research archives' of a megalomaniac pseudo-scientist, W. H. Sheldon. Sheldon believed that the secret of all human character and fate could be reduced to a three-digit number derived from various 'postural relationships' (the photos were taken with metal pins affixed to the spine to define the arc of curvature). I was the reporter who discovered, in 1995, that all these nude photos of America's elite--tens of thousands of them, anyway--were available for viewing by 'qualified researchers' in an obscure archive of the Smithsonian Institution.

"I don't know if this can be classified as a sex scandal, exactly, but it demonstrates the tendency of a certain strain of academic to find a way to abstract from an actual body to a body of mathematical relationships--to pure number rather than impure flesh, if possible."

The more one learns about numismatics and numismatists, the more interesting the story gets. -Editor

To read the complete original E-Sylum article, see: SHELDON'S PHOTO PROJECT (coinbooks.org/esylum_v06n08a04.html)

"THE WHITMAN PUBLISHING BOOTH IS THE PLACE TO BE!"

Come to the Whitman Publishing booth at the American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money, in Chicago, August 1620, 2011. Meet your favorite authors, browse the latest hobby books, talk to other collectors, and study amazing super-rare coins on display. We'll see you there!


Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

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