The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 1, January 1, 2012, Article 7


John and Nancy Wilson submitted this review of the new Cherrypickers Guide. -Editor

Cherrypickers Guide 5th ed v2 Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, 5th Edition, Volume ll, 2012, By Bill Fivaz and J. T. Stanton, Edited by Ken Potter, Foreword by Q. David Bowers and Kenneth Bressett.

Reviewed by John and Nancy Wilson, NLG

The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, 5th Edition, Volume ll, 2012, covers Half Dimes through Gold, Commemoratives, and Bullion Coinage, and is another “An Official Whitman Guidebook.” Bill Fivaz and J. T. Stanton, two good friends, have for many years been the standard bearers for the collecting of die varieties with their Cherrypickers’ Guide(s). Now, with the addition of Ken Potter as Editor, he brings a new set of ideas, thoughts and expertise to an already best-selling reference. Much of his own research and photographs have been included in this reference.

The three pages of Credits and Acknowledgments is a who’s who of numismatic experts who have also added very important input to this reference. This edition is dedicated to well-known dealer and longtime numismatist Larry Briggs.

This wonderfully done hardcover, spiral bound reference has 512 pages and is loaded with many well done illustrations. The 4th edition of this reference was published in January, 2006 and had 32 pages less than this 5th. In this new and revamped edition you will find over 100 new varieties that have been listed. You will also find a new chapter that covers modern silver, gold, and platinum bullion-coin varieties.

The Chapter on “How to use this book,” covers Symbols and Abbreviations Used in this Book; Variety Value and Normal Value and Factors Affecting Value along with the Values for Actively Traded Varieties. The Sheldon Scale is explained along with the Bower’s Universal Rarity Scale (URS). The Sheldon Scale explains and quoting this reference, “that the 1955 Doubled-Die Lincoln cent would be considered “common” or not so common. Yet we know it is in fact scarce or rare.”

Numismatist Q. David Bowers developed the Bowers Universal Rarity Scale in 1992 (June, 1992 - The Numismatist) which assigns a code, URS-0 to URS-22, for the numerical rarity from none known to 2,000,000. This scale can be used for almost anything and is used throughout the Cherrypickers’ Guide.

Also of great use in this Chapter is the Interest Factor (the rating for each variety’s interest from I-1 to I-5). This factor indicates how in demand this variety is. The Liquidity Factor (the rating from L-1 to L-5) indicates how quickly or how easily a coin or variety should sell. You will also find other useful information on average die life; changes to this volume of the Cherrypickers’ Guide; treatment of new variety listings and removal of low-interest and debunked varieties.

The Appendices cover many important topics.

Appendix A. Doubled dies vs. other forms of doubling. One of the most confusing parts of error collecting is the definition of doubled dies vs. other forms of doubling such as strike doubling.

Appendix B. The minting process explains the making of a coin.

Appendix C. Describes the best magnifiers.

Appendix D. Lists the popular varieties in proof and mint sets.

Appendix E. The use of courtesy and respect when looking through a dealers stock. This important part of the book will give you excellent information on how to act when at a dealers table.

Appendix F. 1979-S and 1981-S proof and mark varieties. The 24 blowups of the varieties (Cents through Dollars) will let you take your coin and find exactly what type it is.

Appendix G. Lists recommended reading. This four page Bibliography of recommended readings will give you sources you may not have known about.

Appendix H. Lists various coin clubs of interest to cherrypickers.

Besides the specialized and online organizations, we highly recommend joining the American Numismatic Association (ANA) if for nothing else, but to use their comprehensive library which contains many references on variety collecting. A CONECA application will be found on page 486.

Appendix I. The Fivaz-Stanton numbering system changed in the fourth edition. The new system gives more flexibility for adding additional varieties in the future and a cross-reference chart gives both the new and old numbers to allow easy conversion. This edition adds silver, gold and platinum coins, along with a listing of around 800 varieties. With the addition of this new chapter that covers modern silver, gold, and platinum bullion-coin varieties, the reference will bring in new collectors of this type of numismatic items. It will also have dealers and collectors who could care less about bullion – except the changing price – looking for the die varieties mentioned in this important Cherry Pickers’ Guide.

This new Cherry Pickers’ Guide by Fivaz, Stanton and Potter will be one of the best sellers for Whitman Publishing, LLC in 2012. We predict high honors at the next NLG gathering at the ANA - WFOM in Philadelphia in 2012 for this 5th Edition, Volume Two of the Cherry Pickers’ Guide. We highly recommend this guide for any collector, dealer, researcher, scholar or investor. After reading it, we are sure it will stimulate the collecting of die varieties of U. S. Coins and Bullion.

For information regarding Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties, 5th edition, volume II, which was released in November, 2011 by Whitman Publishing, LLC for $39.95, you can contact Whitman Publishing, LLC, 3101 Clairmont Rd., Suite G., Atlanta, GA 30329, Phone No. (800) 546 - 2995 or visit their site at


RENAISSANCE OF AMERICAN COINAGE: Wizard Coin Supply is the official distributor for Roger Burdette's three volume series that won NLG Book of the Year awards for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Contact us for dealer or distributor pricing at .

Wayne Homren, Editor

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