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Walter Breen Letter with 1846/46 quarter

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  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: Davideo
    Originally posted by: Analyst
    Davideo: "Not wanting to mention it is in my view, wanting it to be hush-hush."
    It is apparent from my posts to this thread that the above post by Davideo is unfair and misleading
    I am not trying to cover up anything. ...


    I didn't accuse you or anyone else of covering up anything. I posted "I don't think it serves the interest of the coin community to be hush-hush about his actions." According to a top result for hush-hush slang on Google: "something that is 'hush-hush' should not be discussed or exposed in public". This parallels pretty much exactly with your statements of "there is no longer a point in mentioning the matter" and "PCGS should vaporize this thread". Hush-hush does not mean cover up, it means to not disclose/discuss, which appears to be the exact argument you are making.
    Nothing in my posts are unfair or misleading, however, you appear intent on spinning statements. I am officially checking out of this thread.


    IMO, that is what Greg (Analyst) does, twists/spin what is stated to frustrate, so that you will not comment

    Kevin J Flynn
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    If I was around in coins when Breen was active and doing the type of archive research I am doing now, I would have challenged him at every step, not because to secure my own reputation, but because a great deal of his information was false, it is important that the truth be presented, with evidence to let collectors know the basis of the statements made.

    I look at Greg, who in a parallel post on the 1894-S dime, claimed that he was the leading living expert on the subject of 19th century proofs, yet I do not believe Greg has researched the archives himself and depends on what was done by Breen and Julian, I do not believe understands metallurgy, which is important in understanding how metal flows in a planchet, and what it takes for the metal to flow into the corner between the rim and edge, and in the farthest recesses of the die, and I do not believe Greg understands the importance of diagnostics and how they can help determine the sequence of striking. Greg IMO, likes to make generalized statements, such as proofs were struck twice, and that in studying the diagnostics of one of the nicer 1894-S dimes, Greg was able to determine it was absolutely a proof and was struck multiple times. I asked Greg multiple times to present this detailed study he did, he refused at every turn. I presented my own detailed evaluation of the diagnostics of one of the 1894-S dimes. I have had other conversations with Greg when he made a generalized claim, such as on the 1838-O half dollar, but refused to provide details. Greg also used quotes from Breen which were incorrect, which is why I believe Greg is defending Breen here in this thread.

    As I would have challenged Breen, I will challenge Greg on his statements as I believe it is important that the truth be presented, and the reader sees there are other alternatives. I know others do the same, they challenge statements that they do not believe, or that they wish evidence be provided. Today's collector is not the naive blind person that follows whatever is written.

    BTW, there is no one even close to JD in terms of knowledge on 19th century proofs, he is a cofounder of PCGS, the person they go to on a difficult coin, and is writing a book on all die marriages for all 19th century coins, actually 3 book, one on copper and nickel, one on silver, and one on gold proofs. Craig Sholley is one of the most knowledgeable people on 19th century mint practices. Roger Burdette and myself are the most active people in the archives today. Roger also has done research and books on series and 19th century mint equipment. You also have other 19th century experts that include Dave Bowers, Tom Delorey, Jeff Garnett, Ron Guth, JP Martin, David Stone, Mark Van Winkle, Sue Oliver and Rich Kelly, and many others. I enjoy conversing with these people and sharing information, one of the things I love best is that they are all open minded, if you find something that shows they were wrong, and provide new information or research, they are open to considering it.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Mark...I was making a joke. There are far too many numismatists to mention. At first I thought you might be Mark Borckardt and wanted to give you a little plug for research (which he does not need).
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Kevin,



    When you get around to writing your encyclopedia I hope you keep the same format as Breen did.



    Introduction for each series, then each major coin and variety with a F #.



    PS Better hurry as time is flying.
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Insider2

    What would be a cool way to write an all inclusive book would be a virtual open ended book, whereas anyone could read it online, and also, if information was found to be incorrect, it could be corrected, i.e. a living evolving resource.
    Kevin J Flynn
  • MarkMark Posts: 3,426 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Insider2:



    It would be amusing if I was Mark B and was speaking of myself in the 3rd person. But I'm not. However ... I know there are a lot of "Marks" participating on this board (sure wish there was one more, Mark Feld) so I have thought of perhaps auctioning off my login name. image
    Mark


  • PistareenPistareen Posts: 1,505 ✭✭✭
    Re my use of Breen's work, whose problematical nature I have written about here and elsewhere:

    "Also, I would not refer to die varieties or die states just as identifiers, in the sense that the 1988 Breen numbers are identifiers. In the description of the very first lot for Pogue III, a gem 1793 half cent, lot 3001, "Considered a middle die state, this is a bit later than Breen’s state II but earlier than his state III." There are many citations of Breen's die state research, pedigree research and condition census "info" in the Pogue III catalogue."

    There are three modern standard works on half cents and their die varieties. Cohen is usually correct, but it also says the least. The discussions of die states and CCs therein are extremely limited. Manley is a work that is explicitly about die states, but Manley refers to Breen's die state work often to place his own die states on a continuum. Breen's work is thorough but flawed. The CC in it, which I referred to often, wasn't written by Breen at all, but by Jon Hanson (don't forget -- just because someone's name appears on the cover of a book doesn't mean they wrote every word or did all of, or even most of, the research). But if I referred to the "Hanson CC" no one would have any clue what I was talking about! Thus, it's the "Breen CC," even though he had positively nothing to do with it. Similarly, the CC in the Breen large cent book was entirely the work of Del Bland and Mark Borckardt. Just because it appears in a book with Breen's name on the cover doesn't mean it's wrong.

    The Breen half cent die state info is a starting point that most people are familiar with. It is easier to say "later than Breen's state III" and have people know what you're saying than "earlier than HA XX/XX:XXX but later than SBG XX/XX:XXX."

    The state of the art, in every subject, is just the last word, not a claim to perfection. When folks write a better book, I use it in place of the last standard reference. When the standard reference sucks, I use it and point out its flaws while still trying to respect the person who had the guts to do the research and publish something. A standard reference is something that a normal person can use for comparison, a book most people have in their libraries -- quoting perfect research in a work intended for a mass audience doesn't help anyone if that perfect research is unknown and unpublished.

    Breen was not always wrong. His research was occasionally groundbreaking, and some of it was spot on. This is why, in case folks wonder, why it takes so long to write a Pogue catalogue -- I take nothing at face value and research every assertion until I'm satisfied with its validity.

    If it's correct, I include it.

    If it's not, I correct it.

    If it's total bunk, I write something lampooning it, sometimes with terribly offensive language, then edit it out and toss it after I've made myself feel better. (Sometimes those lines get emailed to a few friends who I know will never share them.)

    And when a coin is mentioned explicitly in a book, I cite it, even if the book is best used to line a bird cage.
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭
    What would be a cool way to write an all inclusive book would be a virtual open ended book, whereas anyone could read it online, and also, if information was found to be incorrect, it could be corrected, i.e. a living evolving resource.



    -------------------------

    Kevin J Flynn



    Problem with that is many do not know how to read and interpret what they read. Coin forms provide ample evidence of this. For example I WROTE NOTHING ABOUT WHY PEOPLE WRITE BOOKS in a post that was quoted. As you know, folks contribute to the hobby in many other ways too. For example by the conversations you have mentioned with other researchers.



    Next, we have a problem with each person's level of knowledge. One poster recently defined tooling a coin was ADDING METAL TO IT!



    Best to stick with the written word. That can be reviewed and edited before publication. OTHERWISE we get into word battles, ignorant opinions, personalities, AND SOON FIND OURSELVES ENTIRLY OFF THE SUBJECT.



    PS I'm a little peeved that the office manager has not gotten your new book for our library yet!
  • ebaybuyerebaybuyer Posts: 2,982 ✭✭
    I guess as long as it didn't happen to you, no one should talk about it ? its never happened to me and I feel it should be known, those that defend his actions or wish to keep it hush hush should ask themselves why they support such a POS
    regardless of how many posts I have, I don't consider myself an "expert" at anything
  • ebaybuyerebaybuyer Posts: 2,982 ✭✭
    tell his victims to keep it hush hush, perhaps that will console them
    regardless of how many posts I have, I don't consider myself an "expert" at anything
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: Insider2
    What would be a cool way to write an all inclusive book would be a virtual open ended book, whereas anyone could read it online, and also, if information was found to be incorrect, it could be corrected, i.e. a living evolving resource.

    -------------------------
    Kevin J Flynn
    Problem with that is many do not know how to read and interpret what they read. Coin forms provide ample evidence of this. For example I WROTE NOTHING ABOUT WHY PEOPLE WRITE BOOKS in a post that was quoted. As you know, folks contribute to the hobby in many other ways too. For example by the conversations you have mentioned with other researchers.
    Next, we have a problem with each person's level of knowledge. One poster recently defined tooling a coin was ADDING METAL TO IT!
    Best to stick with the written word. That can be reviewed and edited before publication. OTHERWISE we get into word battles, ignorant opinions, personalities, AND SOON FIND OURSELVES ENTIRLY OFF THE SUBJECT.
    PS I'm a little peeved that the office manager has not gotten your new book for our library yet!


    LOL, yeah, you make some good points, perhaps I will write and leave it in the hands of a someone/group/organization so they can update it (after my death) if it is incorrect, and perhaps have an virtual appendix, exploring options as I wish it to be a useful tool for reference and updated if needed to be reflective of the most accurate information/research.

    Kevin J Flynn
  • HCumberdaleHCumberdale Posts: 44 ✭✭✭
    I invite readers to read about the cognitive biases know as the horns and halo effects at the following link http://www.joshuakennon.com/me...ffect-and-halo-effect/

    Even the most awful humans have done a few (even many?) things right. Even the best of us have done a few (even many?) things wrong. We are all complex individuals, and passing judgment is far too easy, particularly when our transgressions are made publically available.

    When looking at a person's actions, statements, and scholarly work it is important to be as unbiased as possible in weighing the individual merits of the particular behavior in question. It is also important to weigh scholarly thought through the correct historical lens. It would be inappropriate for instance to judge Aristotle's theories in medicine from today's perspective. To accurately judge his work, one must get into the frame of what was known at the time of his writing.

    Many positive things can be said of Walter Breen, and many of them will be absolutely true. In turn, many negative things can be said of him, and they too will be undeniably true.

    In terms of his scholarly work, we should attempt as best we are able to judge the merits of what he wrote by the information he had at the time. Was he wrong about some, even many, things? Yes. Did he knowingly falsify some things? Perhaps. Does that discredit the entirety of his work? Not at all.

    When we are all dead men, let us hope that our lives are not mercilessly put under the microscope for all to examine. Let us hope that we are remembered for the good we did, and not the evil.

    Pedophilia and sexual offending is a serious subject, and a serious concern for many parents (myself included). The statistics on the likelihood of sexual assault (particularly for females) are staggering and frankly, beyond unacceptable. If the members of this forum have a genuine concern for these things, let us not waste time writing emotionally charged messages, accusations, and vilifying dead men. Let's go out into our communities and spread awareness, donate to victims, keep our eyes open, and make sure we never keep our mouths shut about things that appear a little "off". Actions like these actually have the potential to help victims, or even better, prevent a victim.
  • WashingtonianaWashingtoniana Posts: 280 ✭✭✭
    Interesting thread. I like what Realone, Kevin, and John K. have written here. I have a few things to add or emphasize:

    First, Breen's victims still live with the damage of his child sex abuse. It's not only in the past for them.

    Second, unless you know, like John K., that some reliable researcher wrote part of Breen's books for him, the information in those books is actually harmful to the state of numismatic research, because of the need to parse what's accurate and what's not. Our collective understanding might have been better if he'd never written anything. Reasonable minds can differ on this point, I suppose.

    Third, regarding William Sheldon, remember that he wasn't just a thief. He also took thousands of nude pictures of Yale students, ostensibly for (now-debunked) scientific study. He was a creepy guy in a different way.
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: HCumberdale
    I invite readers to read about the cognitive biases know as the horns and halo effects at the following link http://www.joshuakennon.com/me...ffect-and-halo-effect/
    Even the most awful humans have done a few (even many?) things right. Even the best of us have done a few (even many?) things wrong. We are all complex individuals, and passing judgment is far too easy, particularly when our transgressions are made publically available.
    When looking at a person's actions, statements, and scholarly work it is important to be as unbiased as possible in weighing the individual merits of the particular behavior in question. It is also important to weigh scholarly thought through the correct historical lens. It would be inappropriate for instance to judge Aristotle's theories in medicine from today's perspective. To accurately judge his work, one must get into the frame of what was known at the time of his writing.
    Many positive things can be said of Walter Breen, and many of them will be absolutely true. In turn, many negative things can be said of him, and they too will be undeniably true.
    In terms of his scholarly work, we should attempt as best we are able to judge the merits of what he wrote by the information he had at the time. Was he wrong about some, even many, things? Yes. Did he knowingly falsify some things? Perhaps. Does that discredit the entirety of his work? Not at all.
    When we are all dead men, let us hope that our lives are not mercilessly put under the microscope for all to examine. Let us hope that we are remembered for the good we did, and not the evil.
    Pedophilia and sexual offending is a serious subject, and a serious concern for many parents (myself included). The statistics on the likelihood of sexual assault (particularly for females) are staggering and frankly, beyond unacceptable. If the members of this forum have a genuine concern for these things, let us not waste time writing emotionally charged messages, accusations, and vilifying dead men. Let's go out into our communities and spread awareness, donate to victims, keep our eyes open, and make sure we never keep our mouths shut about things that appear a little "off". Actions like these actually have the potential to help victims, or even better, prevent a victim.


    Some great perspectives and well balanced points, and your right, we should evaluate someone's work based upon the merit of what they presented and in the time frame it was presented. Breen did question a lot and opened doors to several subjects in numismatics and was the first to present some information that has stood the test of time. I have seen Breen's written comments written on the cardboard holders on coins at the Smithsonian and ANS, with Breen's description being wrong, meaning obviously that he simply made a mistake. You are right that we are only human, and luckily in today's world we are smarter and will provide feedback and comments which help, but also help inspire us to make sure our information is accurate. We have the benefit of the internet today and forums such as this to present information and test theories and beliefs, and see if there are any other perspectives we have not considered, which many of us have done, and which was not available years ago. I remember recently reviewing QDBs Liberty Seated book, Dave wanted to make sure that the information presented was as accurate as possible and would not be refuted, this was much easier as we did it through email.

    I believe the perspective presented and argued herein though was that we should understand a person completely, as sometimes their work is reflective of who they are/were. Some argued we should only view the good, and not consider negative attributes in considering whether they are reliable and whether their information presented is true, this is what sparked the many comments, censorship.

    When I researched and studied John Story Jenks, and also studied many of the other great collectors, I found that many of their collecting habits were reflective of who they were, if they were hoarders in life, that is how they collected, if they were detailed, wanted the best of the best, that is how they collected. Sometimes I believe this is true for many of us, for example, I love collecting two cent pieces, which I also believe is an underdog series, which I sometimes believe I am of the same nature and reflective of who I am. Your right in that there is different parts of each of us, but they are still connected and reflective of who we are.

    I take the perspective in writing books, read everything about a subject, challenge everything, and verify it myself, which is what we all should do, which is what Pistareen had already said. Obviously there are several writers that include research/documents that validate a point, and make questioning usually unnecessary.

    You are correct that we should judge the information presented based upon its merits, and consider all information presented, not just information that is wrong. I believe most of us do this, we read, learn, and figure it our for ourselves, which I believe is different than was years ago, when people blindly accepted it because it was in writing.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    I like your take and agree with most of it except for the part about Breen's scholarly work. Where I believe you went wrong is when you discover that a researcher has fabricated and just lied or made up things to fill a book it then hurts what correct things he had to say. When you lose trust it affects everything else that the individual had to say whether they were honest or correct about it. Once trust is broken it poisons the whole well. How do we know know what to believe, sure Breen wrote many an accurate and genius write-up but dithering what is genius/correct and what isn't now falls on our shoulders thereby negating everything until the work is checked.


    Alan,

    I would not expect anyone to blindly read my work and believe it to be true just because I say it is true. Some of the information in Breen's Encyclopedia is valid. You are right, the fact that we know there is much information that is wrong, we should take this into consideration as to whether we believe it or how much truth is there, goes toward credibility. I still look at Breen's books to see if there are areas or issues to be addressed, I still check everything myself, and just use his book to see if there were perspectives not considered. For example, Breen has stated that unsold proof coins were released into circulation. In researching this, and I know Roger has researched this, it was on an extremely limited basis in certain years, and was the decision of the Director, it was not policy or something that happened frequently or was any type of standard. I believe Breen generalized some things, he would find one example for one year, then assume it applied everywhere as fact.
    ie. we should read it if it is relevant to the subject matter we are studying, but take it extremely lightly on credibility and check everything for ourselves.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • epcjimi1epcjimi1 Posts: 3,491 ✭✭✭
    My head hurts, holy cow, I've been minutitiaed to death.
  • GazesGazes Posts: 2,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I certainly am not going to judge others on how they choose to deal with Breen. I can only speak for myself. When I learned of his past some years ago, I decided to sell my copy of Breen's Encyclopedia. Personally I just didn't want it in my home. Again, just my own personal decision.
  • MrHalfDimeMrHalfDime Posts: 3,440 ✭✭✭✭
    Has anyone noticed that the OP, TPRC, has not been back to comment on any of this? He simply posted a picture of a beautiful 1846 quarter variety, and provided an image of some related and very interesting documentation on the coin, and others have taken over. Boy, talk about hijacking a thread. Enough already.
    They that can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: Washingtoniana
    Interesting thread. I like what Realone, Kevin, and John K. have written here. I have a few things to add or emphasize:
    First, Breen's victims still live with the damage of his child sex abuse. It's not only in the past for them.
    Second, unless you know, like John K., that some reliable researcher wrote part of Breen's books for him, the information in those books is actually harmful to the state of numismatic research, because of the need to parse what's accurate and what's not. Our collective understanding might have been better if he'd never written anything. Reasonable minds can differ on this point, I suppose.
    Third, regarding William Sheldon, remember that he wasn't just a thief. He also took thousands of nude pictures of Yale students, ostensibly for (now-debunked) scientific study. He was a creepy guy in a different way.


    Interesting, I was aware of the other contributors of Breen's Half Cent book but not to the level that they had contributed to this, but I have not studied these series either yet. During the time frame it was written and based upon Breen's popularity at that time, it might have made sense then to have Breen as the primary author to help sales. In hind sight, the opposite is true.

    I was not aware of Sheldon and his nude photos of Yale students, claiming it was for research, deceiving them, especially because of position. IMO it is the same as when Bill Clinton was having sex with an intern in the oval office, he should have known better, as the president and leader of our country, his actions are viewed and reflective on his office and hurts the reputation of our country and of the office of the President. Breen should have respect his position as a leader in the hobby at that time and not done things to reflect negatively on himself or the hobby, and especially not hurt children and families. The same is true of Sheldon, he hurt the reputation of his school and of the hobby by taking these deceptive actions.

    Kevin

    Kevin J Flynn
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 14,457 ✭✭✭✭✭
    [Quote]I certainly am not going to judge others on how they choose to deal with Breen. I can only speak for myself. When I learned of his past some years ago, I decided to sell my copy of Breen's Encyclopedia. Personally I just didn't want it in my home. Again, just my own personal decision. [/Quote]



    I respect a person who truly follows their conscience. Perhaps one of the three extra copies of his book in my personal library once belonged to you. I'll confess that I still have not read the entire book after all these years.
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: MrHalfDime
    Has anyone noticed that the OP, TPRC, has not been back to comment on any of this? He simply posted a picture of a beautiful 1846 quarter variety, and provided an image of some related and very interesting documentation on the coin, and others have taken over. Boy, talk about hijacking a thread. Enough already.


    Steven,

    Its not about hijacking, the thread started on Breen's letter, talked about the credibility on the letter and the person who wrote the letter. When someone argued continuously that we should not include and censor negative information, that started a heated debate.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • leothelyonleothelyon Posts: 7,907 ✭✭✭✭
    In reality, come Sunday, we all should pray for.....well, take your pick. It's mighty hot where they're at now.

    Don't forget, ok?


    Leo image

    The more qualities observed in a coin, the more desirable that coin becomes!

    My Jefferson Nickel Collection

  • hickoryridgehickoryridge Posts: 215 ✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: Gazes
    I certainly am not going to judge others on how they choose to deal with Breen. I can only speak for myself. When I learned of his past some years ago, I decided to sell my copy of Breen's Encyclopedia. Personally I just didn't want it in my home. Again, just my own personal decision.


    +1 EXACTLY
  • ambro51ambro51 Posts: 13,482 ✭✭✭✭✭
    .....still waiting for someone to mention
  • WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 4,436 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This is beginning to look like the world coins threads where collectors state
    that they will not collect coins from certain countries because of wicked kings, queens,
    emperors, presidents, chancellors, sultans, or what have you.

    image
    https://www.brianrxm.com
    The Mysterious Egyptian Magic Coin
    Coins in Movies and Coins on Television
    The 1949 San Francisco Mexico Peso Restrikes


  • ambro51ambro51 Posts: 13,482 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Note the OP is an Attorney and understands When to speak....and When to realize the inmates have seized control of the thread and brutally twisted it away from the intelligent question he originally posed.
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Going back to the original subject, what would a Breen authentication letter sell for?
    I have not seen any on ebay, I see his other books, but they do not seem to be that much over original cost for most, there are some that ask a lot.

    When I typed Walter Breen authentication in Heritage, 4 sales came up, from the early 1990s.
    One of them, which sold 1996, was a 1917 Quarter With Authentication From Walter Breen as a Matte Proof
    It stated in part
    "1917 Type One MS 64 Accompanied By Breen Proof Papers. The satiny surfaces are overlaid with light gray-russet toning. For further information about this remarkable coin we quote a letter of authentication from Walter Breen that he wrote at the ANA in Cincinnati, July 23, 1988:
    "This certifies that I have examined the accompanying coin and that I unhesitatingly declare it a genuine 1917 Type I quarter proof (matte variant).
    "On comparing it to another such proof I find that the striking quality is the same, showing far more detail on head, shield, central drapery, feet, breast feathers, &c., than do the regularly seen full head 1917's; the surfaces, obviously untampered, differ from those of business strikes.
    "Number surviving is uncertain. Within the last 20 odd years I have seen possibly 7 specimens."


    The coin sold for $11,550. This obviously implied that the Breen letter swayed someone to spend a lot of money on the coin and based upon his assertion.
    The fact that the Mint did not strike proofs in 1917 is important to know, especially on the new coins.
    Plus, he calls it a matte, which is simply the result of a working die being sand blasted and having micro pits in the surface, the planchets were not polished before being struck. Anyone who has studied matte proofs, especially on 1909, understands that there are many coins struck for circulation that appear to have a matte surface. How does an untampered surface define it as a proof, it simply means it has little contact marks...... No other person or organization has seen or authenticated a 1917 matte, yet Breen viewed 7
    Sorry, I digress, wanted to show an example, and how some people believed him in the 1990s. I had seen a 1917 Lincoln cent with a Breen authentication letter stating it was a matte proof, scoped it, saw tool marks on the inside edge that was done to sharpen it.
    The fact that most 1917 Type 1 show a strong strike is important, perhaps at best it was an early strike



    I have done authentication letters, especially when doing an appraisals.
    Remember one was for a complete Lincoln cent set, I authenticated the 1909-S VDB as genuine.
    The person who bought immediately contacted the seller questioning the 'S', stated that he showed to several dealers who said it was fake.
    It was good that they questioned it, irrelevant of the letter, always should make sure yourself.
    Obviously the dealers he showed the coin to did not know what they were looking at.
    I contacted them, sent them photos of the 'S' and other parts of the diagnostics which proved it was genuine, also sent them the grading service sites they could submit to if they did not believe me.
    Authentication letters were popular back in the day, but today more so for show, they are usually not needed as coins of value are usually being certified,
    but what it did was show an individual who viewed it who was living and who could be contacted to back up the assertion.
    I usually do appraisals and will do a an excel sheet describing the coin, value and such, with a letter for insurance or for a will, and points of contact to sell, and recommendations of how to sell.

    So has anyone seen a Breen letter sold and what it brought?

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • AnalystAnalyst Posts: 1,436 ✭✭✭

    Consider the following references in the current Heritage catalogue for the upcoming CSNS auction:

    For an 1868 Two Cent piece, lot #3131, the cataloguer cites Breen directly: Breen wrote in 1988: “Proofs have serif of D restored by hand to working rev.; ornament below WE weak.”

    For another Two Cent piece, just two lots later, #3133, the cataloguer says, "Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia explains that a new hub was introduced in 1871 with smaller berries distinct from the stems, a redesigned ornament, and repositioned motto letters."

    For lot #3307, a Proof 1877 Twenty Cent piece, the Heritage cataloguer wrote, "Walter Breen, in his Proof Encyclopedia, speculated on a 3:5 ratio of surviving 1877 to 1878 twenty cent pieces, respectively. This figure remains fairly consistent with population data from PCGS and NGC, which show the 1877 to be the slightly scarcer date"!

    For a Gardner pedigree 1862 quarter, "3361 1862 PR66 PCGS. Breen (1988) writes that 550 proofs were struck for sets. Somewhat more than 430 pieces were sold, and the rest melted."

    Lot #"4518 1796 Myddelton Mule, Copper Company of Upper Canada, PR64 Brown PCGS. Breton-722, W-8910, R.7. Ex: Temple ... Breen wrote that Boulton & Watt struck these mules as sample coins, perhaps for numismatic purposes."

    "4537 1864 L On Ribbon PR64 Red Cameo PCGS. Snow-PR1. ... For many years it was thought that just one die pair existed for genuine pieces (PR-2). It was not until 1984 that Walter Breen confirmed the existence of PR-1. The only known example of the third variety, PR-3, was authenticated by Richard Snow in 1997."

    The interpretations by RealOne and Mark of the current views of Breen's research are not accurate. Of course, Breen should have been more careful and should have better documented some of his sources. It is more important to focus on the excellent and still valuable numismatic work that he did. Generally, all research from the past should be double-checked before being relied upon now. Most of the people who wrote about numismatic matters before Breen made plenty of errors, too.

    We are reflecting upon the past with the knowledge and technology that we have in the present. It would not make sense for automotive engineers now to view Henry Ford as a charlatan or to laugh at the ' Model T.' Given the knowledge-level about cars during the first part of the 20th century, the Model T and later the Model A were results of path breaking research.

    Pistareen: "When folks write a better book, I use it in place of the last standard reference."

    That was one of my points in this thread. Despite their respective flaws, Breen's encyclopedias of 1977 and 1988 remain the best such books. They are helpful for the hobby and useful to collectors now, who should not have to listen to remarks about Breen's sex crimes every time Breen's name is mentioned. When these books are replaced by better books, then Breen's encyclopedias should be forgotten.

    RealOne: "When I look at the bust h10cs that i own that were determined to be proofs by Breen( i.e. they were written about in his Proof Book. so no question Breen determined them to be proofs and this wasn't some letter he wrote for a collector)"

    Well, no, I said already that many of the listings in the Proof encyclopedia of 1977 were of coins that Breen never actually saw. He hints as much in the book in more than one passage, though this point should have been more clearly stated. It is also true that the book was financed by a dealer who may not have wanted some of Breen's sources to be mentioned. Some material could have been edited out. That dealer may have wanted the readers to rely entirely upon Breen's words, as he also hired Breen to catalogue coins.

    The most beneficial aspects of the 1977 book on Proofs are in the discussions at the beginning. Also, then and now, most everyone realized that other opinions should be sought before buying a coin that was listed in passing in that book. Before that book, there was almost nothing on the subject matter. A list of coins that might be Proofs, along with a definition and a discussion of the history of Proofs, was far more than had ever been done before. There is also much useful pedigree information, even in instances where the coins cited were not regarded as Proofs by later researchers. There is a wealth of accurate information in the book.

    As for the letters, many of them are forgeries. For decades, people forged letters of authenticity. For a coin that is certified by PCGS as a Proof, such a letter is no longer very important and may have been tossed or sold to a literature collector along the way. A substantial percentage of the Breen letters that still accompany coins are forgeries.
    "In order to understand the scarce coins that you own or see, you must learn about coins that you cannot afford." -Me
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Greg,

    Just because a source is referenced in a catalog does not absolutely mean it is correct, I provide the 1917 quarter that Breen called a matte proof in a Heritage auction as an example. If I remember correct, there was no exact count on the number of 1862 proof sets melted, and I believe they were not melted until 1865 or 66, and a group of 62, 63, 64 were melted together, without a count.

    If you use the context of Breens book as an all encompassing book that covers all series, you are correct in stating no other books covers all series and in that context no other book can be better than Breens. But if you take each U.S. series, there are many books, for that series, when compared to Breen's book for that series has a greater level of accuracy. Same is true on Breen's proof book.

    There is one thing making mistakes, and we all have made mistakes. It is another to intentionally misrepresent or deceive. I have interviewed dealers, who stated that for $300, Breen would provide a letter to the effect of what they wanted, irrelevant if it was true. I believe that is what Alan (Realalone) is stating, that if someone was a liar, which reading the wiki site and the other resources, Breen did lie about many things about his life, than he would also knowingly lie in his research and how do you know what to believe? Think of the average collector, do you think they have access or have viewed the level of coins to make a judgment as to whether Breen was right or wrong, do you think the average person has access to the National Archives to determine if Breen's statements are valid? Obviously we have more tools today such as Heritage auction archives, and PCGS Coinfacts and other sites. Also, what about the people who believed Breen and made purchases based upon his statements, such as the person who bought the 1917 quarter he claimed was a matte proof.

    I am not stating some of his work was not ground breaking, nor that it covered and presented stuff not before seen, I am saying that given his credibility overall, it should be taken lightly. Like you state, any reading another source of research should double-check, that is the smart thing to do anyway.

    There is something else that has not been stated. This is a hobby, something for most a passion, personal, most than just a business. As you can see from some of the responses, some individuals got rid of Breen's book when his crimes were discovered. This is also a consideration and why reputation is important for a dealer, author, and people in coins.

    I have also seen some of these incorrect Breen letters of authentication from individuals who obtained them from Breen.

    Also, with some of Breen's statements, such as calling the 1917 quarter a matte proof, I question his level of knowledge and the basis of that knowledge.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • kevinjkevinj Posts: 945 ✭✭✭
    Alan,

    LOL, sorry to say, I would not trust most of you people with my wallet, bank account numbers and such

    IMO the most important question for the average collector would be whether they would trust Breen's statement on a coin they they are considering purchasing, such as whether a coin is a proof or not.

    Kevin
    Kevin J Flynn
  • MarkMark Posts: 3,426 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Analyst:



    Your Model T analogy is apt. Obviously Henry Ford (Walter Breen) was a pioneer in car technology (numismatic research). But, if you were designing a car today (researching a numismatic issue today) would you use Ford's claimed results (Breen's claimed results) without question? Further, suppose Ford had a nasty habit of sometimes making false statements when he was describing his path-breaking technology. Would this quirk make you more or less likely to use Ford's claimed results?



    So all I am saying about Breen is that he is very far from an authority I would quote without first trying to thoroughly check to see if anyone else has has re-affirmed or dis-proven Breen's statement.



    By the way, what is your opinion of Breen's statements about the Roman Head cent that I quoted? That particular gem came from his Encyclopedia not his Proof book. If you were writing one your excellent articles (Yes, I definitely read and like them!) about Roman Head cents, would you accept Breen's statement as fact?
    Mark


  • AnalystAnalyst Posts: 1,436 ✭✭✭
    Kevin: "Just because a source is referenced in a catalog does not absolutely mean it is correct"

    Obviously, I know this. In many articles, I have pointed to errors or misleading remarks in auction catalogues. I never said that Breen or anyone else was always correct. I sometimes argue with JA about the grades of individual coins, though I recognize that he is a sharper grader than I am. No one can 'always be right.'

    I was responding to criticism of Breen in this thread. Did Kevin read my entire post above that begins with references to the current HA catalogue?

    'Of course, Breen should have been more careful and should have better documented some of his sources. It is more important to focus on the excellent and still valuable numismatic work that he did. Generally, all research from the past should be double-checked before being relied upon now. Most of the people who wrote about numismatic matters before Breen made plenty of errors, too.

    'We are reflecting upon the past with the knowledge and technology that we have in the present. It would not make sense for automotive engineers now to view Henry Ford as a charlatan or to laugh at the ' Model T.' Given the knowledge-level about cars during the first part of the 20th century, the Model T and later the Model A were results of path breaking research.'

    Mark: "Your Model T analogy is apt. Obviously Henry Ford (Walter Breen) was a pioneer in car technology (numismatic research). But, if you were designing a car today (researching a numismatic issue today) would you use Ford's claimed results (Breen's claimed results) without question? Further, suppose Ford had a nasty habit of sometimes making false statements when he was describing his path-breaking technology. Would this quirk make you more or less likely to use Ford's claimed results? "

    My guess is that Breen was not deliberately making false statements in his books. Very late in his life, there were probably some deliberate false statements in a few authentication letters. It may be true that he had to pay large legal fees or medical bills.
    But, as I said, most of the puzzling letters are forgeries. Since the early 1960s, people were fabricating such letters.

    Before personal computers became ubiquitous, it was much harder for all researchers, especially independent writers, to keep track of information. QDB usually has salaried colleagues or company staff assist with fact-checking, research and proof-reading. Indeed, in many books, he provides a substantial list of such people.

    Breen probably became confused as to sources. Some sources are far more reliable than others. In some cases, Breen probably, in his mind, confused a C, D or F-grade source with A or B-grade sources, in terms of reliability and sophistication. When someone is referring to hundreds of pages of handwritten notes, such confusion is not startling.

    Breen was as an individual processing a massive amount of information, and he was a pioneer in many areas of numismatics.

    All of Breen's books and published articles together could well have added up to more 2,000,000 words. Did the errors and unsubstantiated stories really amount to a significant portion of his work? In terms of analyzing the Proof status of individual coins, I agree that his error-rate was surprisingly high. Late in his life, his mind was probably on other things. RealOne's remarks earlier in this thread about Breen being too much of a generalist are noteworthy. There is a sharp limit to the number and scope of subjects in which any one individual can be an expert and remain an expert for a long time.

    Breen had been viewing coins and researching from the early 1950s until the early 1990s. Such work is much more difficult than some of the contributors to this thread understand; try meticulously viewing 200 coins in one auction under magnification, grading them and then taking notes about them.

    EBayBuyer: "I guess as long as it didn't happen to you, no one should talk about it ? its never happened to me and I feel it should be known, those that defend his actions or wish to keep it hush hush should ask themselves why they support such a POS"

    While I welcome disagreement, I have little patience for people who ignore my posts and insult me. I made it clear in my first post to this thread that ' Posts about Breen's sex crimes discourage people from learning about coins and coin collecting. The people who mention the matter (here and) now are not accomplishing anything. Of course, pedophiles should be severely punished. Since an article by Charles Morgan was published on CoinWeek last year, almost all those interested are aware of the extent of Breen's misconduct.' Click to read this article.

    I never said that people should "keep quiet" about Breen's misconduct. It is appropriate to discuss such matters in forums relating to psychology, psychiatry, or criminal justice. It is counter-productive and harmful to raise the topic in this forum, especially in threads about specific coins. EBayBuyer and Davideo, among others, are violating Don Willis' rules, not me. In an early post, EbayBuyer clearly attempted to hijack the thread, to steer it away from a discussion of an 1846 quarter and a Breen letter, and make this thread a discussion of Breen's pedophilia.

    EBayBuyer: "I wouldn't want anything that he ever touched, pedophiles have no place in society, but theres always room in the ground."

    This forum should be appropriate for people of all ages and be an enjoyable setting for discussions about coins. Collectors do not visit this forum to read about pedophilia and many are likely to be turned off by mentions of the topic here.

    As I already mentioned, JK mentioned Breen more than 100 times in the Pogue III catalogue. Do EbayBuyer and Davideo believe that pedophilia should have been mentioned multiple times in the Pogue III catalogue as well? Do they think that pedophilia should have been mentioned in the current CSNS auction catalogue as Breen is favorably cited by auction cataloguers?

    The people who wish to discuss Breen's pedophilia should do so in another forum, not in a forum that is devoted to coins and collecting.

    The allegations of sexual misconduct by Thomas Jefferson are credible. Do any participants in this thread believe that allegations of sexual misconduct should be noted every time the Declaration of Independence is discussed?

    "In order to understand the scarce coins that you own or see, you must learn about coins that you cannot afford." -Me
  • ebaybuyerebaybuyer Posts: 2,982 ✭✭
    there are those that believe in censorship, you have every right to censor what you read, but DO NOT censor what I read
    regardless of how many posts I have, I don't consider myself an "expert" at anything
  • BUFFNIXXBUFFNIXX Posts: 2,393 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Collector of Buffalo Nickels and other 20th century United States Coinage
    a.k.a "The BUFFINATOR"
  • cameonut2011cameonut2011 Posts: 8,524 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 27, 2018 6:52PM

    @Sonorandesertrat said:
    "Posts about Breen's sex crimes discourage people from learning about coins and coin collecting."

    Nonsense. About fifty years ago, I went to my first ANA convention with my grandmother (who was a coin collector). She kept a close eye on me precisely because someone warned her about Breen.

    Breen's life has spiraled out of control to the point that he had difficulty maintaining a job; it is well known that he had difficulties with most of his employers. He did add an element of rigor to numismatic research, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s. His Encyclopedia is an amazing effort as well.

    However, letters like the one shown above, as well as other signed attribution/grading opinions, are of modest historical interest and should not be taken too seriously. They reflect his chronic need for money (especially in the 1980's) more than anything else.

    Indeed, legal fees aren't cheap.

    @Analyst said:
    2) It has been proven that Martin Luther King, Jr. plagiarized his Ph.D. dissertation. It was not really his at all. Furthermore, there are strong allegations that he plagiarized material for other purposes. Moreover, there is documentation of countless extramarital affairs, some of which were in extremely inappropriate settings. The point here is that all this is not relevant King's accomplishments. More so than anyone else, MLK brought attention to discrimination against black people and influenced changes in laws and attitudes. The focus should be on the importance of MLK's accomplishments, not the wrongdoing in his life. People who are interested in learning about civil rights and U.S. history, regardless of their political or sociological views, should focus on King's role in effecting change and in influencing U.S. history.

    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/mlking.asp

    If true, you are still comparing apples and oranges. His role in the Civil Rights Movement and the attention he brought to it does not require an element of trust. Breen's actions, particularly the lies, need for money, and prolonged period of manipulative material make him suspect at best. As for MLK, the fact that I wouldn't necessarily trust his academic work (if the allegations are true) says nothing about his public advocacy which speaks for itself.

  • air4mdcair4mdc Posts: 667 ✭✭✭✭

    IMO it is the same as when Bill Clinton was having sex with an intern in the oval office, he should have known better, as the president and leader of our country,

    “I did not have sex with woman!!!!”.....I thought he was explicit about that???

  • thefinnthefinn Posts: 2,284 ✭✭✭✭✭

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson bought and sold people. Different time I know, and that does not diminish my respect for them. And it doesn't compare to molestation... unless the 'new mobs' with torches and pitchforks had their way.

    I saw Walter Breen at a Long Beach show back in the late '80's. Everyone knew about his problem, but they revered him enough to bow to the monster for his knowledge. I saw early U.S. coppers dealers looking at a Connecticut trying to go figure out the die pairings. Someone looked up and said, "There's Breen, go ask him." He looked at it for a few seconds and said something. The guy came back, said what Breen had said, so they looked up the pictures and die characteristics. Sure enough, he was right. The man was a genius.

    The thing with child molesters is that they are highly intelligent people. People knew about Breen and were careful, and warned others about his "problem". But they still allowed his genius to be useful. Yes, some of the things he called proofs aren't, but at the time, there was probably no one else that had his scope of knowledge in one head.

    I'm not defending his actions, but he contributed a great deal to the SCIENCE of Numismatics, and his contributions cannot be thrown into a landfill (even though he probably should have been).

    thefinn
  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 10,349 ✭✭✭✭✭

    So...how many of these 1846 RPD Quarters have been found? And to be downplayed as a "Minor Variety" is pretty insulting to me.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_

    aka...Dr. Defecto



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