Cherrypickin' and Grinnin'

Cherrypicking is the art of finding a rare die variety of a coin and purchasing it at no premium over the cost of the regular, non-variety coin. Die varieties include such things as doubled dies, repunched dates, and repunched mintmarks. Some series have die varieties peculiar to that one series.

Doubled dies are created by a mint when a die is hubbed (impressed with a design from a master) multiple times in order to fully bring out the design details, and one of the hubbings is misaligned. The most famous example of a doubled die is the very dramatic 1955 doubled die Lincoln cent.

Repunched dates and mintmarks occur when a die sinker adds a date or a mintmark to a die, giving the punch multiple blows and misaligning one of the blows.

Die varieties are frequently not apparent to a casual inspection, and may require a 5x or even a 10x magnifier to see. If a die variety requires more than a 10x magnifier to see, it's probably not worth much of a premium.

The "bible" for would-be cherrypickers is The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties (see bibliography below). This book tells you what to look for in each series, and suggests market values. Coins listed in the Cherrypickers' Guide are listed by FS number. For Morgan and Peace silver dollars, the Comprehensive Catalog of Morgan and Peace Dollars, commonly called the VAM book after its authors, is an authoritative reference.

Cherrypicking is a fun adjunct to a regular coin collection. The thrill of the hunt for a rare variety keeps you searching, and when you locate one you either buy a coin for your collection for less than it's worth or you can resell it at a profit.

This gallery presents just some of the many coins that were cherrypicked by one of members.

Click here to begin the tour of the Cherrypickers' Delights

All of the photos in this gallery were taken by Howard Spindel.


References and sources for more information about Varieties and Cherrypicking

The Cherrypickers' Guide to Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton, Stanton Books and Supplies, Savannah, GA.

Comprehensive Catalog of Morgan and Peace Dollars by Leroy C. Van Allen and A. George Mallis, Worldwide Ventures Inc., Orlando, FL.

Copyright © 2006 The Willamette Coin Club