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The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 44, October 29, 2017, Article 5

NEWMAN/BREEN CORRESPONDENCE ON NEWMAN PORTAL

The latest addition to the Newman Numismatic Portal is the decades-long Newman/Breen Correspondence. Project Coordinator Len Augsburger provided the following report. Thanks. -Editor

extract of Breen letter 12271992

Eric P. Newman and Walter Breen maintained a numismatic correspondence from 1951 until Breen's death in 1993 in a prison hospital. Breen initiated the first contact, writing to Newman in January 1951 about Newman's article on Fugio cent varieties from the January 1949 Coin Collector's Journal. Newman was impressed with Breen's observations relative to Fugio cents in the Smithsonian, and so began their exchange. In 1952, Newman sent his U.S. half cents (many ex. Col. Green) to the ANS for Breen's examination, and the discussion moves on to Vermont coppers, Nova Constellatios, Virginia coinage, and other topics. An active dialogue of early American numismatics continues through the 1960s before trailing off in the 1970s.

In 1984 Breen shares a draft of a portion of his Encyclopedia, and in 1988 Newman congratulates Breen upon the publication of a “monumental work,” noting “its bibliographical references, its illustrations and its indices are a pleasure to behold.” Newman also anticipates the work will not be universally accepted, as “differences of opinion are natural and you will probably get your share of such comments or challenges as you well realize. I naturally have some such differences.” Still, Eric intended to “refer to it in any future research or writing I do in relevant areas.”

The conclusion of the file isn’t pleasant, recounting Breen's legal, financial, and health problems. These have been widely reported, and there is no whitewashing to be done. Breen is unrecognizable (“you would not recognize me…I didn’t recognize my own face in the mirror…”) and unrepentant (“the current charges against me are false & trumped up……don’t believe anything you may read about me in newspapers….”). The correspondence closes on December 27, 1992. Breen passed away on April 27, 1993.

Link to Newman/Breen correspondence on Newman Portal:
https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/archivedetail/522453



Wayne Homren, Editor

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