CRITIC'S CORNER: BREEN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA
In response to D. Wayne Johnson's remarks on Breen's
numbering system, Michael Schmidt writes:
"You liked this!??"
"I discussed this numbering system once with Walter. He said
he had nothing to do with it and that it was all the publisher's
idea. A straight-through numbering system is very foolish. The
numbers bear no real relationship to the coins they are
cataloging. Yes, they left empty numbers for later additions,
but at the end of each denomination, not at the end of each
series. Take the 1914/13 buffalo nickel. This is a major new
discovery that deserves its own Breen number, but the next
open number comes AFTER all of the Jefferson nickels. In
fact, since the overdate was discovered several years ago, its
number would now be contained WITHIN the Jefferson nickel
When it happens with older series the problem gets even worse.
The 1796 NC-7 large cent has a new obverse and the only
stemless wreath reverse for that date. Its Breen number would
be mixed in with the copper plated zinc Lincoln cents. Secondly,
even though empty numbers were left they are rapidly being
consumed by the new issues each year. What do you do
when the empties have been all used up? Re-number
everything? Or does next year's Jefferson nickel just get a
Breen number in the 8300 range? No, the numbering system
in the Breen book is hopelessly flawed."
Wayne Homren, Editor
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