Walter Breen’s Documents Can Help Future Researchers
Prominent collector and benefactor Dwight N. Manley of Brea, California has donated to the American Numismatic Association (www.money.org) more than 60 books, auction catalogs, and photographs he recently acquired at auction from the Sydney F. Martin (1945-2021) Numismatic Library Collection. All the items were previously owned or annotated by noted numismatic researcher and author Walter Breen (1928-1993) and many have his handwritten notes.
Among the highlights of the donation are two annotated drafts of Breen’s massive 1987 masterpiece, Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, with thousands of handwritten notes made as he typically did in different color inks. The combined drafts total over 3,000 pages and were described by auction house Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers as “an exceptionally important part of the Breen archives.”
Another annotated book is Breen’s personal copy of the 1981 reference guide he co-authored with former ANA President Anthony Swiatek, The Encyclopedia of United States Silver & Gold Commemorative Coins, 1982-1954.
There are 29 auction catalogs each with Breen’s handwritten notes. The sales dates range from a Stack’s auction in 1951 to the Rarcoa offering of the Kaufman Collection in 1978.
The donation also includes several letters Breen wrote and 19 photographic plates depicting colonial-era state and other pre-federal coins with his handwritten notes on rarity. Among the plates are black and white prints depicting obverses and reverses of 1785 Connecticut coppers. These photos were produced by Al Hoch in the late 1960s and are the coins extensively cited in Breen’s famous 1975 Early American Coppers organization sale catalog of Connecticut coppers.
“Walter Breen had a troubled personal life, but he was one of the top numismatic researchers of his era. These important documents can help current and future researchers provide useful information for our hobby,” said Manley.
In 2003, the ANA Library at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado was named in honor of Manley when he gratefully donated $250,000 to the Association. That donation was a “thank you” for the $400 scholarship he received as a teenager in 1980 to attend an ANA Summer Seminar session.
In 2007, Manley donated an original edition of the world’s first illustrated numismatic book, Illustrium Imagines, published in 1517.
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging the study and collection of coins and related items. The ANA helps its members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of educational and outreach programs, including the Money Museum, located at 818 N. Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colo. For more information, call (719) 632-2646 or visit www.money.org.