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William Herbert Sheldon (November 19, 1898September 17, 1977) was an Americanmarker psychologist and numismatist.


Born in Warwick, Rhode Islandmarker, Sheldon distinguished himself in both fields; in psychology, Sheldon pioneered the use of anthropometry in the development of his categories of somatotypes, and in numismatics, Sheldon authored Penny Whimsy, the first work to extensively catalog the varieties of early American large cents. He also developed the "Sheldon scale" that graded coins on a numeric basis from 1 to 70.

Through the use of many photographs and measurements of nude figures (mainly Ivy League students), Sheldon assigned people into three categories of body types in the 1940s: endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic.

Most psychologists no longer accept the validity of somatotype theory , and later revelations that Sheldon used his access to the American Numismatic Society's large cent collection to engage in theft have called his role in numismatic history into question. Nonetheless, his "Sheldon scale" for coin grading is still standard today among American numismatists. He died in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker in 1977.


  • William H. Sheldon, The varieties of human physique: An introduction to constitutional psychology (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940).
  • William H. Sheldon, Atlas of Men. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954.


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