The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 16, April 22, 2007, Article 7


After meeting the author at the recent Charlotte ANA convention,
Howard Daniel suggested that I review 'The Moneybucks Handbook for
Minting Errors & Die Varieties' by Ray Balsbaugh for The E-Sylum.
I hadn't heard of the book before, but it's in its third printing and
according to the author "PCI, ANACS, and other grading companies are
now using the MB numbers in The MoneyBucks Handbook as a reference for
die varieties and minting errors. They are putting the MB numbers on
the upper right front of the coin slabs."  I asked Ron Guth, President
of Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), but he hadn't heard of
the book yet either, and neither had Dave Lange of NGC.

What one can't help but notice is the commercial nature of the book -
just after the table of contents is a page promoting MoneyBucks Coin
Auctions with instructions for finding the author's sales on Yahoo
Auctions.  There are also full pages scattered throughout the book
advertising the auctions. As the author notes in his introduction,
"some of the coins remain in my personal collection, while others
have been sold or are currently available for sale."

This explains the odd title - until I saw the book I was perplexed
about what "MoneyBucks" had to do with errors and varieties.  Of course,
the competing "Cherrypickers' Guide" is an equally oddly titled book
where only the subtitle reveals the true subject: "... Rare Die Varieties
of United States Coins".

The book's scope overlaps the Cherrypickers' Guide but is primarily a
subset.  On page xvii the author states: "The main theme of this book
is hub doubled varieties known as doubled dies."  Both books offer short
descriptions of each listed error alongside photos.  But it's the photos
that caught my eye in The Moneybucks Handbook, and not in a good way.
While many are indeed quite usable, others... not so much.

A review by Matthew High on the Amazon site is spot-on in my opinion.
He writes: "My biggest gripe is about the printing quality of the book.
One of the primary purposes of this book is to help identify die varieties
and errors. Some of the pictures are decent, but a majority of them are
too muddy, too pixellated, too small, or just plain too damn useless.

"For a book where the quality of the pictures is all-important, the
publisher did a very poor quality on the printing job itself... For
several of the pictures, the contrast is too low to make out the relevant
details (such as trying to see that D mintmark below the S). Many of the
pictures are completely unnecessary -- such as including a picture of the
coin inside a slab -- the coin itself being nothing more than a dark
circle. What's the point in showing the slab?"

The photo quality differences between the two books are evident right on
the covers.  The fourth edition Cherrypickers' Guide has six high-quality
close-up images of doubled letters, dates and mintmarks, clearly
illustrating the quality of images to be found within.  The cover of
the MoneyBucks Handbook has a number of poorly cropped and somewhat
washed-out images of complete coins.

Experienced variety collectors may well have use for both books in
their library, but as a casual collector, I'll stick with the Cherrypickers'

Guide.  See the link below for my earlier review of the latest edition.

I've always admired variety collectors for their deep knowledge and
attention to detail. I've never been one, so I'm not even close to being
an expert on the topic; I probably couldn't spot an obvious hub doubling
if you blew up an ultra-high-resolution image to the size of my eight-year
old son.  So I'll stop my review here; perhaps some of our more
knowledgeable readers can pick up where I've left off.

To view the MoneyBucks Handbook and reviews on eBay, see
MoneyBucks Handbook (eBay)

To view the MoneyBucks Handbook and reviews on Amazon, see:
MoneyBucks Handbook (Amazon)


Ray Balsbaugh writes: "As the author of The MoneyBucks Handbook, I
have attempted to add a book to the numismatic community that will add
to the enjoyment & education of old and new collectors of die varieties.
The book has increased in size from the 2nd Edition to the 3rd Edition
by doubling in size to 365 pages and over 900 pictures. The one Amazon
review quoted was for the old 2nd Edition, & many pictures have since
been updated. The book has been financially successful with all three
publications having sold over 3,000 copies including over 200 copies
sold at the recent Charlotte ANA to the public and wholesale to coin
shop owners nationwide. There are 12 pages set aside in each book to
sell to advertisers to offset costs and I make no apologies for this

"It is not a hardback book, there are no color pictures in the book, and
the pages are not photo paper slick so that the price stays low.  The
books have been sold for $22.00 on eBay & Yahoo for years with hundreds
sold and no negative feedback (searchword on eBay: moneybucks). The 60x
pictures have the same quality as the Breen's book and as the pictures
in the VAM book.

"This book features all the major varieties and many of the minor
varieties with large sections on Large Cents, Bust Halves, and there
are current accurate prices for variety coins up to and including 2006.

"And finally, this book has been reviewed in Numismatic News, Coin World,
Coins Magazine, and over a dozen newspapers. In the last 5 years, I have
personally attended hundreds of coin shows in a 10 state area in and
around Ohio to sell the book and do book signings that have been
advertised in advance in Coin World and Numismatic News.

"I appreciate the opportunity to have it reviewed. It is also available
for retail and wholesale from the Publisher at 1-888-280-7715."

[I'd like to thank Ray for providing the review copy and his followup
comments on my review.  I had already cut out parts of the Amazon review
that seemed overly critical about the photo quality - it makes more sense
now that I see that review was about the previous edition.  This is why
I provide drafts of my reviews to the publishers for comment.   I've cut
a few more lines from that quoted review, but let others stand.  I do
believe, for example, that the photos of slabs add little to the book.

As for the commercialism, The Cherrypickers' Guide also has several
pages of ads (as do many other recent numismatic books), but those ads
are largely from people other than the author; it was the self-promotion
aspect of this book that stood apart.  No, there's nothing wrong with
that, but it's worthy of note in a review.

As I stated, I am not terribly well qualified to review a book on
varieties, and have said nothing on the books appropriateness in that
regard.  As such I would welcome thoughts from our readers.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google Web
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization 
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address:

To subscribe go to:
Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.



Copyright © 1998 - 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster