Walter Breen

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Walter Breen and his characteristic bushy beard

Walter H. Breen (1930–1993) was an American author and boylover. He is best known among coin collectors for writing Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins. "Breen numbers", from his encyclopedia, are widely used to attribute varieties of coins. He was also known for activity in the science fiction fan community, NAMBLA, and for his research and defence of pederasty.


A foundling child discovered in San Antonio, Texas, Breen strove to distinguish himself academically from a young age. He attended a Catholic high school in Wheeling, West Virginia, and excelled academically throughout his post-secondary education. Breen had a brief stint in the United States Army Air Forces after being accepted in October 1946, with a recorded IQ of 144.[1] However, following a severe beating,[2] he was honorably discharged that December. Breen later claimed that a 1947 plane crash while on duty led to the development of his photographic memory.[3] During his recovery, he read voluminously about rare coins and initiated correspondence with various members of the numismatics community.

He received his Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Johns Hopkins University in 1952, graduating Phi Beta Kappa after having finished four years of coursework in approximately ten months. Studying the Beat generation, he later earned a Master's degree in the sociology of music from University of California, Berkeley in 1966.

Breen was married to science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley in 1964. They had two children and separated in 1979, continuing to see each other. They officially divorced in 1990.

Breen was relatively open about his own attraction for boys. He actively sought out boys and got in trouble with the law several times. He was first arrested in the 1950s for "lewd behavior", exposing himself to young boys under a boardwalk in Atlantic City. During science fiction fandom's "Breendoggle" of 1963–1964, Breen was banned from attending Pacificon II. Prominent fans of the era such as John Boardman dismissed the allegations as hearsay and "character assassination," and the scandal blew over.[4] Shortly thereafter, Breen married Bradley, who was aware of his sexual involvement with male adolescents. In 1991, Breen was charged with eight felony counts of child molestation involving a thirteen-year-old male, the step-son of science-fiction writer Stephen Goldin.

He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1992, and died in prison in Chino, California the next year.

Breen's work on Pederasty

Apart from his influential coinage works, Breen extensively researched on the history of pederasty. In 1964, assisted by Warren Johansson, he published his monograph Greek Love (New York: Oliver Layton Press, 1964)[5] under the pseudonym J.Z. Eglinton. The book was later published in UK and Germany. For years, Greek Love was the most throughout scholarly work on the history of pederasty.

Apart from Greek Love, Breen also edited the International Journal of Greek Love and contributed several articles in it.

Further reading

External links