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
"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.
To read the complete original E-Sylum article, see:
SHELDON'S PHOTO PROJECT
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