Bill Fivaz, coauthor of the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, and Dennis Tucker, publisher at Whitman Publishing, along with Whitman Associate Editor Brandon Hall, spoke to a standing-room-only audience at the American Numismatic Association’s National Money Show on Thursday, February 27, 2020, in Atlanta. They gave an overview of today’s cherrypicking hobby and the market for coins that can be cherrypicked for profit.
47 collectors attended the presentation, which was videotaped as part of the ANA’s “Money Talks” educational program.
“Cherrypicking” is the act of examining coins that appear normal at first glance to find ones that have unusual characteristics—overdates, doubled and tripled dies, misplaced mintmarks, and similar features—that reveal them to be scarce and valuable.
The Cherrypickers’ Guide uses close-up photographs and text descriptions to show collectors what to look for in die varieties. Professional numismatist Larry Briggs is serving as volume editor for the latest book, coordinating research and pricing along with Fivaz. Its publication is scheduled for August 2020, to debut at the ANA World’s Fair of Money, 30 years after the first edition’s release.
Entirely new sections in the upcoming volume include Type B Reverse Washington quarters; Bust half dollars; “Long Nock” Morgan silver dollars; 1879-S, Reverse of ‘78, Morgan dollars; Peg Leg Eisenhower dollars; and U.S./Philippine coins of 1903 to 1945.
The volume will include more than 200 new die varieties, making it the largest Cherrypickers’ Guide volume ever. The tentative list of new additions includes:
- 3 new Liberty Seated half dimes
- 3 new Capped Bust dimes
- 2 new Liberty Seated dimes
- 10 new Barber dimes
- 8 new Mercury dimes
- 12 new Roosevelt dimes
- 2 new twenty-cent pieces
- 5 new Capped Bust quarters
- 7 new Liberty Seated quarters
- 2 new Barber quarters
- 3 new Standing Liberty quarters
- 26 new Washington quarters
- 10 Bust half dollars
- 8 Liberty Seated half dollars
- 4 Barber half dollars
- 7 Liberty Walking half dollars
- 15 Franklin half dollars
- 2 Kennedy half dollars
- 5 Liberty Seated dollars
- 1 trade dollar
- 15 new Morgan dollars
- 6 new Peace dollars
- 2 new modern dollars
- 6 new gold coins
- 1 new classic commemorative
- 20 new U.S./Philippines coins
Fivaz and Tucker showed examples of die varieties including a 1901-O Barber dime with a repunched mintmark, worth $150 more than a normal coin; a 2015 “Homestead National Monument of America” quarter, worth face value (25¢) as a normal pocket-change coin but $25 with an unusual reverse die variety; a 1919 Mercury dime with strong obverse doubling; an 1806 Draped Bust half dollar with a repunched date; a Proof 1968-S Kennedy half dollar with an Inverted S Over Knob Tail S mintmark; and more Roosevelt dimes, Liberty Walking half dollars, Franklin half dollars, and other new additions.
Fivaz noted that some die varieties, such as the 1919 Mercury dime doubled die, are on older coins but have been discovered only recently. “More varieties are out there, waiting to be found,” he said.
In the presentation and its question-and-answer session following, Fivaz and Tucker talked about Cherrypickers’ Guide coauthor J.T. Stanton, who passed away in 2018; how varieties get chosen for listing (and delisting); what makes a variety a good candidate for inclusion in the book; how to search for die varieties; and what coin series are gaining in popularity.
Bill Fivaz, a coin collector since 1950, has earned recognition as one of the country’s most respected authorities on numismatic errors and die varieties. He is a longtime contributor to the Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). With the late J.T. Stanton he coauthored the first Cherrypickers’ Guide in 1990, launching the modern boom in interest in die varieties.
Larry Briggs is well known to the hobby community as a dealer, author, and educator. He served the American Numismatic Association as president of its Authentication Committee. A student of history and archaeology, Briggs served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for Ford Motor Company before launching his own business, Larry Briggs Rare Coins, in 1978. His specialties include error coins and die varieties, Liberty Seated coinage, and early American coppers.
About the American Numismatic Association
The American Numismatic Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to study and collect coins, tokens, medals, paper money, and related items. The Association serves the academic community, collectors, and the general public with an interest in numismatics, through its vast array of educational programs including its museum, library, publications, conventions, and seminars. The ANA website can be accessed here.