Good ANS Video About William Sheldon’s Thievery

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by NSP, May 2, 2020.

  1. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Dr. William Sheldon may have been the source for our numerical grading scale, but he made some bad “contributions” to the hobby also. One of his pastimes involved secretly switching out large cents in other collections with his poorer examples. I never fully realized the magnitude of his thievery, but the ANS made a very informative presentation about the topic that was uploaded to YouTube last year. It’s a great way to spend an hour of social distancing and learn about a less-publicized side of Sheldon.

     
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  3. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    Thanks. Fun to watch.
     
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  4. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Only my opinion, but he was so boring I almost fell asleep and I kept saying, "Get on with it." The subject was very interesting, however his 'one liners' fell flat with me. Little did I know Sheldon and Naftzger were slimy ********.
     
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  5. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    A word of advice: don't look into Breen's life outside numismatics. :yack:
     
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  6. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Will the 'Boys' come get me if I do? :eek::nailbiting:
     
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  7. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Sheldon had other dark sides. He was the inventor of the discredited theory of using physique to predict personality aka constitutional psychology. As part of his "research", he used nude photos of college students. Many of photos were used without explicit consent.

    Cal
     
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  8. markr

    markr Active Member

    Fascinating video. I am a member of the ANS but did not know about this video, so thanks VERY much to NSP for posting it.

    I think a similar video about John Ford would be equally fascinating, though he never really received justice for his misdeeds.

    Mark
     
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  9. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Ivy League college students
     
  10. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, Ivy League schools. The students gave verbal consent because they were told that the photographs would be used to check for health problems like spinal malformations. Some schools made the photos mandatory; there was no consent. The photos were used for Sheldon's crackpot theory relating body form to personality. If you've heard the terms endomorph, mesomorph or ectomorph, they came from Sheldon. One problem was the photos were not well secured, and some were distributed to various individuals and institutions. A large cache of them even made it to the Smithsonian. Surprisingly it went on for decades. When it became public and a scandal, the institutions ... colleges and the Smithsonian ... shredded the photos they had in their possession ... thousands of them.

    When you read Sheldon's biography, it's less surprising that the grading scale is a weird 70 points

    Cal
     
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  11. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Sheldon wasn't the only numismatist to steal coins from ANS. In 1989, a surgeon named Juan Suros, was caught with coins he lifted from the ANS collection. Suros was a big contributor to ANS, and his wife was a past president, so he had ready access to the collection. ANS staff noticed coins missing and linked them to Suros' visits. So next time, a careful count was made immediately after he left, and 13 coins were missing. Police were called and found those coins and more in his hotel room. Additional stolen coins were found in his million dollar home in San Diego.

    He wasn't as clever as Sheldon, who substituted lesser quality coins for the ones he took, thereby delaying discovery that coins were missing.

    Sad that both of these thieves were wealthy doctors and could afford far better legal collections than the average collector.

    Cal

    link to story in LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-04-18-me-2041-story.html
     
  12. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    And one of the reasons it became public was because it was realized that the the First lady Hillary Clinton, and many other famous and powerful people had their photos in the collection. But when the story broke it was because of the Clinton pictures.

    I don't know about Suros, but I don't believe Sheldon was really that wealthy.
     
  13. ewomack

    ewomack 魚の下着 Supporter

    This article looks like it talks about the Sheldon photograph scandal (link to NY Times Magazine).
     
  14. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Sheldon had a PhD and MD and was a faculty member at the Harvard, Columbia and Univ of Oregon medical schools. I imagine he had a lot of money to spend on coins. More than me anyway. :)

    Cal
     
  15. markr

    markr Active Member

    Calcol: You should watch the video. It contradicts some of the things you say. Plus it is fascinating!
     
  16. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    I finally watched the video and didn't find contradictions with what I had posted. I surmised that Sheldon had sufficient wealth to collect coins legally based on his degrees and institutional affiliations ... but it was an assumption. At one point, Sheldon apparently had a good collection of antiques, which he sold to support his research. In addition to any direct university salary or salary from institutional grants, he had private benefactors who supported his work. I have no idea what kind of estate was left at his death. As he aged, Sheldon's wealth came partly from stealing coins and then trading and selling the purloined coins. So it's hard to say how many he could have acquired legally and how big his estate would have been if he hadn't been a thief.

    He wasn't an academic pariah until later in his career when it became clear that constitutional psychology had no real scientific basis and that his research techniques were very flawed. Early on, he was applauded by leading psychologists and sociologists and others. He received praise in print from such notables as Karl Jung and Aldous Huxley.

    Dr. Kleeborg certainly has my respect as a numismatic writer. He has an extensive list of numismatic publications. He was one of the lawyers who was involved in ANS's successful lawsuit to reclaim most of coins stolen by Sheldon. However, I don't know what his sources are relating to Sheldon's early academic status or his wealth.

    Patricia Vertinsky wrote an interesting article in 2007 in the Canadian Bulletin Of Medical History about Sheldon and his chief assistant, Barbara Honeyman. The article has detailed information on both of them. They eventually parted ways on unfriendly terms. She went on to have a successful career in somatotyping. In addition to being a thief, scientific fraud, and taking nude photos of young people under false pretenses, Sheldon apparently was quite a racist as well. The article can be accessed at https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cbmh.24.2.291 .

    Cal
     
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  17. markr

    markr Active Member

    calcol: Thanks for the link. I'll check it out because it sure looks interesting.

    Mark
     
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