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    Eric P. Newman Correspondence Files:
    Walter H. Breen

    Newman, Eric P. Correspondence with Walter H. Breen. Approximately 300 pages, consisting of original letters to Eric P. Newman from Breen and carbon copies of Newman's letters in return, 1952-1993, as well as various printed materials described below. Overall condition is generally fine.

    Though Walter Breen had some peripheral presence in numismatics in the 1940s, it wasn't until December 1950 that he truly burst upon the numismatic scene. In that month, he had his first published numismatic article appear (in The Numismatist), and he met John J. Ford, Jr., with whom he had been corresponding, and who in turn introduced Breen to Wayte Raymond. The legendary dealer and publisher of the Coin Collector's Journal immediately recognized Breen's potential and set him to work in the National Archives researching Mint records and other documents. Breen became a highly active correspondent at that time, reaching out to most of the notable numismatic researchers of the day.

    Eric P. Newman broke the ice by writing Breen to congratulate him on an article he'd had published in the January 1952 issue of The Numismatist ("Survey of American Coin Hoards"), which Newman called "one of the most interesting articles I have read in many years" (letter of Jan. 17, 1952). Breen's response (erroneously dated Jan. 22, 1951) is a highly detailed two-page missive in which he comments on the "Stepney Hoard" counterfeit coppers he encountered at Stack's and which he states are probably "still kicking around in a drawer in Stack's offices." The two began corresponding intensely about the puzzles posed by the counterfeit coppers, trying to tease out what exactly constituted the emissions of the Machin's Mills operation. Fugio cents are also discussed, as are other Confederation-era copper pieces, before the ongoing conversation turns to half cents--a conversation that culminates in Newman sending his collection of them to the ANS in November 1952 for Breen to examine and have photographed. A five-page letter from Breen to Newman is most indicative of the correspondence from this period. Single-spaced with tight margins, Breen types in multiple colors and then hand-annotates the typewritten letter before sending it to Newman. Another batch of notes came to Newman written neatly on the backs of New Netherlands Coin Company coin envelopes. The amount of information being shared between them is most impressive.

    As professional and family obligations increased for Breen, the level of correspondence falls off, though his detailed 1968 listings of Massachusetts silver of the NE, Willow Tree, and Oak Tree types is notable. The correspondence during the 1970s diminishes to a trickle, but then resumes in the 1980s as Breen's work on what became his Complete Encyclopedia progressed. Draft pages are sent for Newman's review and Newman's congratulatory letter on its publication is included.

    The remainder of the letters are from the final years of Breen's life while he was in prison. They concern a number of non-numismatic topics, but also discuss various matters of ongoing work: the 1794 book being compiled by Breen with Jack Collins, and Breen's assistance with Newman's work on the Clapp/Sheldon controversy at the ANS. A number of articles from various numismatic publications from the period of Breen's 1991 arrest through his death in 1993 are also included.

    The correspondence between Eric P. Newman and Walter H. Breen is most impressive during the 1950s, when Breen was at his sharpest and when both men were deeply engaged in similar research interests. Indeed, half of the letters present in these files date from that decade. They are fascinating not only from the perspective of numismatic research, but also for what they say about the men writing them. A unique opportunity.
    Estimate $7,500.
    Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2018
    7th-10th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 385

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    Truth Seeker: The Life of Eric P. Newman (softcover)
    A powerful and intimidating dealer of the 1960s, backed by important colleagues, was accused of selling fraudulent gold coins and ingots to unsuspecting numismatists. Who would go up against a man like that and, over the course of decades, prove the fraud? Who would expose a widely respected scholar as a thief, then doggedly pursue recovery of coins that the scholar had stolen from an embarrassed numismatic organization, all over the objections of influential collectors who had bought coins with clouded titles? Eric P. Newman would - and did. Reserve your copy today.
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