A bushel of updates in the works for next Cherrypickers’ Guide

Guest Commentary from the Sept. 15, 2014, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 09/02/14
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Dennis Tucker is a publisher at Whitman Publishing LLC, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. 

It’s hard to believe the 25th anniversary of the Cherrypickers’ Guide is nearly upon us. 

Think about it: For Young Numismatists growing up in the hobby today, the Cherrypickers’ Guide has always existed! But many older collectors remember when the now-legendary book first burst onto the numismatic scene. It was in January of 1990 that J.T. Stanton and Bill Fivaz debuted the first edition at the Florida United Numismatists convention in Tampa. Collectors snapped up 500 copies at the show, and the entire print run of 3,000 sold out before year’s end. “We tackled the right subject at the right time,” Bill would later say. 

The cherrypicking duo updated their book to a second edition, and eager die-variety collectors bought 5,000 copies in six months. The third edition featured five times as many varieties as the first; it went to six printings and sold more than 28,000 copies. For the Cherrypickers’ Guide, it’s been “onward and upward” ever since.

What makes collecting coins by die variety so popular? It’s probably the thrill of picking through a collection of seemingly normal coins and finding a rare and valuable variety that everybody else overlooked. Suddenly that $5 coin is revealed to be worth $500. What’s not to enjoy? 

Bill Fivaz recently got a letter of gratitude from a young coin dealer — thanks to the Cherrypickers’ Guide, he was able to pay off his house early by cherrypicking rare die varieties and selling them for a fat profit! 

Beyond that, a study of die varieties increases your overall understanding of how hubs, dies, and coins themselves are made. So you’re beefing up your knowledge and your wallet at the same time, while savoring the excitement of the hunt.

By its fourth edition, the Cherrypickers’ Guide had become so big that Bill and J.T. split it into two volumes. The first covered minor coinage (a boon for the thousands of people who collect cents and nickels). Whitman Publishing took over for volume II. 

This was one of the first big new books that Whitman started work on after I came aboard as publisher in December 2004. It would include silver half dimes through dollars, federal gold coinage, and commemoratives. We rolled it out in August 2006 at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Denver. The two volumes of the fifth edition followed in 2008 and 2011. 

Now we’re gearing up for the sixth edition, volume I — and we’re looking for cherrypicking volunteers. 

If you collect the coins in volume I by die variety, we want to hear from you. These include half cents, large cents, Flying Eagle and Indian Head cents, Lincoln cents, 2- and 3-cent pieces, Shield nickels, Liberty Head nickels, Buffalo nickels, and Jefferson nickels. We’re looking for your insight on new varieties to include in the sixth edition; old listings that should be delisted; and updates to values, rarity rankings, and interest and liquidity factors. Your photographs, market research, die analysis, and general insight are welcome.

Longtime hobby expert and current ANA governor Mike Ellis will be helping us coordinate the editorial side of the project. You’ll be joining dozens of other specialists and avid collectors who proudly wear the title “Cherrypicker.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Whitman Publishing at cherrypicker@whitman.com. This will email our core editorial team and we’ll get in touch with you. Volunteers will be credited in the book’s acknowledgments. And you’ll earn the gratitude of future collectors who share your love of the hobby!

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