Cherrypickers’ Guide Editorial Summit Held in Chattanooga

Left to right: Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker; Cherrypickers’ Guide coauthor Bill Fivaz; professional numismatist Larry Briggs; and Whitman associate editor Brandon C. Hall, at SEGS Grading Service headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, May 2019.

An editorial summit was convened in Chattanooga, Tennessee, May 1 and 2, 2019, to plan the sixth edition, volume II, of Whitman Publishing’s Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins. The meeting laid out a comprehensive plan for updating the volume, which covers die varieties of U.S. coins from half dimes to gold double eagles, plus commemoratives, bullion, and other series. It will be published in 2020, marking the 30th anniversary of the Cherrypickers’ Guide.

Cherrypickers’ Guide coauthor Bill Fivaz earned the top honor of the American Numismatic Association, the Farran Zerbe Memorial Award, in 1995, and was elected to the ANA Numismatic Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2010 the ANA and Whitman Publishing honored his legacy as a teacher and writer by endowing the Bill Fivaz Young Numismatist Literary Award for writers aged 8 to 12.

Present at the conference were Cherrypickers’ Guide coauthor Bill Fivaz; Whitman publisher Dennis Tucker and associate editor Brandon C. Hall; and professional numismatist Larry Briggs, who is coordinating edits and updates for the sixth edition, volume II. They met at the headquarters of SEGS Grading Service in Chattanooga.

To “cherrypick” is to examine coins that appear normal at first glance and find ones that have unusual characteristics—doubled and tripled dies, overdates, repunched mintmarks, and similar features—that reveal them to be rare and valuable. The Cherrypickers’ Guide uses close-up photographs and text descriptions to guide collectors in what to look for. It includes rarity ratings and values.

The sixth edition, volume II, is expected to include more than 800 die varieties, including many new additions. It will cover Capped Bust coinage from half dimes through half dollars; Liberty Seated coinage; Barber silver coins; and every modern series from the early 1900s to date, plus gold dollars through $20 gold coins, classic commemoratives, and modern bullion pieces.

“Many coin series will be expanded, and there will be several entirely new sections,” said Tucker. “This volume includes some of the most popular U.S. coin types, including Mercury and Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, Liberty Walking half dollars, Franklin and Kennedy half dollars, Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and modern dollar coins.”

Noted die-variety specialist Larry Briggs: “I’ve been collecting, buying, and selling coins since I bought my first coin from the back page of a comic book. At the time that 1803 large cent was the most beautiful coin I’d ever seen. Today I can accept that it was, in fact, downright ugly, but it started a love affair with coins that has lasted well over 50 years.”

In the coming weeks and months the book’s editors will reach out to the hobby community for advice, recommendations, and research. In the meantime, they can be contacted by email at cherrypickers@whitman.com.

Coauthor Bill Fivaz, a coin collector since 1950, has earned recognition as one of the country’s most respected authorities on numismatic errors and die varieties. He is a longtime contributor to the Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”). With the late J.T. Stanton he coauthored the first Cherrypickers’ Guide in 1990, launching the modern boom in interest in die varieties.

Larry Briggs is well known to the hobby community as a dealer, author, and educator. He served the American Numismatic Association as president of its Authentication Committee. A student of history and archaeology, Briggs served in the U.S. Air Force and worked for Ford Motor Company before launching his own business, Larry Briggs Rare Coins, in 1978. His specialties include error coins and die varieties, Liberty Seated coinage, and early American coppers.

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