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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 39, September 24, 2006, Article 10

BOOK REVIEW: CHERRYPICKERS' GUIDE, FOURTH EDITION, VOLUME TWO

The long-anticipated new edition of the "Cherrypickers' Guide to
Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins" by Bill Fivaz and J.T.
Stanton debuted recently.  The Fourth Edition, Volume II covers
Half Dimes through modern dollars, plus gold and commemoratives.

In his Foreword to the book, Dave Bowers neatly sums up where the
Cherrypickers' Guide fits in the pantheon of U.S. numismatic
literature.  He writes: "For any numismatic library, some books
are interesting to have, perhaps for glancing through, setting
aside, and possible reading at a later time.  Other books are a
bit more useful, with listings, prices, and historical information
that are very helpful to collecting endeavors.  Then there are the
books that are essential (make that absolutely essential) - of which
this is one.... I cannot imagine collecting or understanding the
topics covered here ... without a copy of this book at hand."

For bibliophiles, the Preface covers the history of the book itself,
which began in 1989 with a suggestion by J. Woodside of Scotsman's
Coins in St. Louis.  Woodside told Bill Fivaz he ought to write a
book illustrating all the neat coin varieties he collected.  Working
with friend J. T. Stanton, the pair eventually chose 160 varieties
to illustrate.  The initial press run of 500 copies sold out at the
FUN show in January, 1990.  Eventually 3,000 copies were produced
and sold.  The second edition sold 5,000 copies in six months.  The
third edition went through six printings totaling 28,000 copies.
Literature dealer John Burns reports that the new Fourth edition,
Part II edition is an equally fast seller.  At a recent show in
Columbus, OH Burns had just 42 copies in stock but sold every last
one.  I'll bet other dealers are selling them fast as well.

The second edition of the book was offered in spiral binding format,
which J.T. Stanton believes was the first for a numismatic book.
While we bibliophiles may have a hard time with this format because
it just doesn't sit well on a shelf, this book isn't MEANT to sit on
a damn shelf - it's meant to be USED.   And the spiral format is
extremely useful - it is easy to open the book flat to a particular
page to compare a coin to the illustration without having to prop
the book open.

Still, as much as I understand the utility of the spiral format,
I could never get past the problem of shelving a spiral-bound book,
because sans spine, there is nowhere to display the name of the book.
It bugs me.  But with the latest volume, Whitman has neatly solved
the problem with a best-of-both-worlds solution called the "Hidden
Wiro" format - it's a spiral-bound book sandwiched within a glossy
color hard cover, complete with a labeled spine!  At last, a
Cherrypickers' Guide I can store neatly on my shelf and still have
the convenience of laying flat while in use.  To me it was a delight
to see the new format, and I would recommend converting the spiral-
bound "Redbook" and many other reference works to the hidden wiro
format as well.  It's the bee's knees!

Time now to quit babbling about the format of the book and move on
to content.  Since I've never been a variety collector, I'm afraid
there's little I can add except to say that I must agree with the
tens of thousands of buyers of the previous editions - this is a very
useful and valuable book, well worth a multiple of the cover price for
active coin show goers with an interest in ferreting out scarce
varieties in dealer stocks.

I would highly recommend that anyone new to the Cherrypickin' hobby
skip directly to page 412.  Buried in the back of the book as Appendix
D is a great two-page article titled, "When Cherrypickin', Use Courtesy
and Respect!"  The article discusses the social aspects of the game
and offers some excellent advice on how to conduct oneself while
poring through coin after coin in someone's stock.  I would recommend
that this section be moved front and center in future editions.

Lastly, I would like to compliment the authors on their promotion
of specialty numismatic organizations throughout the book.  Each
chapter lists Clubs and Educational Information about the coins
discussed, pointing readers to great organizations like the John
Reich Collectors Society and the Liberty Seated Collectors Club.

All in all, another great numismatic book, and well worth the wait.
Congratulations to the authors, their contributors, and Whitman
Publishing for their efforts in finally making the latest
Cherrypickers' Guide a reality.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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