There's no magic to finding the die varieties mentioned in Collectors' Clearinghouse columns and Coin World news stories.
Anyone can learn to find them. All it takes is knowledge, which is really quite easy to find.
Collectors are going to need a good library of magazines, newsletters and books in order to learn about die varieties.
Coin World is a must for its reports of new die varieties and old varieties unknown to all but a few specialists.
J.T. Stanton's newsletter, Cherrypickers' News, is a good source for information on new die varieties. Write to Stanton at P.O. Box 15487, Savannah, Ga. 31416-2187.
Join the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and read the group's magazine, Errorscope. Annual dues (in 1999) are $20 for regular members and $5 for youths under age 18. Write for membership applications to CONECA, James Wiles, 9017 Topperwind Ct. Fort Worth, TX 76134-5501
Buy and read Arnold Margolis' The Error Coin Encyclopedia and J.T. Stanton's and Bill Fivaz's The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties. Both books are available from dealers specializing in numismatic literature. (See the Classified Advertising section in Coin World, category 181, Coin Books, or call Coin World Books, 1-800-253-4555, for assistance.)
What should you do if you think you've found a valuable coin?
You can show it to a local coin dealer, but not all dealers have specialized backgrounds in die varieties and error coins.
You can send the coin to one of the authentication and grading services for authentication. Each firm charges a fee for its services, and keeps that fee whether or not they find your coin authentic, or whether they agree with you that your coin is a rare die variety.
You can send the coin to Coin World, in care of the Collectors' Clearinghouse department. Clearinghouse receives from 100 to 200 coins a month that collectors hope are rare and valuable coins. There is no fee for this service, although we do request return postage, especially if you want the coins returned via insured or registered mail. Package the coins securely in a standard coin holder, and place the coin between two sheets of cardboard to keep them from sliding out. (We've received envelopes from collectors who simply threw them into an envelope without securing them in a holder, with the coins tearing a hole in the envelope and falling out during transit, so be careful. However, do not apply tape directly to the surface of the coin; the tape will leave a sticky residue on the coin that will lower its value.) Address the package to Coin World, Collectors' Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 150, Sidney, Ohio 45365-0150. We'll examine the coins and return them to you along with a letter explaining what happened.
Good luck, and happy hunting! Now not every error or variety you may find in your pocket change will be a valuable coin, but maybe, just maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones.