Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coin Roll Hunter Finds Gold in Cents! 1909-S VDB Discovered in Bank Box

Contender for "Find of the Year", Magers
at Lincoln Cent Resource's Forum found a
cache of wheat cents supplied by the local
bank.  The 1909-S you see before you was
the marquee piece in the lot.
Cent searching is fast becoming a more popular alternative to silver hunting in the same type boxes mainly in part of some recent media attention.  Prior to the Sacramento coin show in May 2014, members of the local coin club infused into circulation, four 1909-S Lincoln cents in the hopes of "juicing" up non-collector public hoopla in anticipation of the show weekend. Local news stations sent out a wire to the airwaves of the practice to great fanfare.  The 1909-S coins are valued around $80 a piece and provided all the buzz it needed.

As recent as the Sacramento Coin Club news, an avid penny box searcher in Arizona did what he always does on a given week, and that's head down to the local banking institution for several boxes of pennies.  The teller didn't supply the normal sealed box of cents, but instead a selection of customer wrapped rolls that he had taken in recently.  Usually, customer wrapped rolls have the better stuff in the them, but no one could explain what was to be found next.  With excitement, the first 50 rolls were solid wheat cents ranging from 1909 to the 50's. After this initial realization, Magers (Member of Lincoln Cent Resource forums who discovered the cache) drove back to the bank and picked up the 17 remaining rolls to much the same success in the findings. And after the dust settled, he uncovered what appeared to be an old collection that had been rolled up and turned in.  The resulting breakdown was staggering.  All coins were wheats with exception of a group of brilliant uncirculated 1959 and 1960 dated cents.  The big finds in the group were a nicely graded 1909-S VDB, a 99% off center specimen and a BU 1925-D.  Magers sent off the 1909-S VDB and it came back graded from PCGS as XF40.  PCGS price guide has this coin valued at $1175 in this grade!

Congrats to Magers, a fantastic find and it couldn't have happened to a better person!  Here's to many more years and "boxes" of success.

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Discovery Canadian Nickels Prompt Furious Search - 1932 Far 2 Variety

The last few months, I've been monitoring the activity of these new nickel varieties that were discovered in 2007.  According to an ongoing forum topic on, there is a new variety that is taking the Canadian coin collecting community by storm, and it is the 1932 nickel with the "Far 2" numeral in the date. There are other variations of this same type in other dates in the series, most notably the 1926 semi key with a "far 6" in the date.  The "Far 2" variety is found in less than 2% of the current mintage of 1932 dated coins searched through.

How does this new find translate to current market demand?  Believe it or not, this is a surprising stat for such an "under the radar" date in Canada nickels.  Right now, supply is low enough that it will sustain a profitable price level until more collectors make it out into the hobby and then I would imagine this price to ascend.  Lower graded examples have sold in the $150-$200 range, but expect more in the $400-$700 arena for anything higher than an XF. The best method of cherrypicking these coins are in the bulk foreign coin bins or even in dealer backup supply.  Keep in mind, very few dealers know about this variety, so there is a great chance you will be able to obtain a relatively high grade example that is unattributed.  Please refer to the reference photo below for diagnostic information. And to become a part of the discussion on, here is the link:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Check Your Change! - Ultra Modern Coins Finds a New Niche in Variety Collecting

To begin, ultra moderns consists of any coin or currency that have been produced since 2000.  But let's squash all the talk about how modern coins are a waste of time for treasure seekers.  In a hobby where a coin's life is cyclical, finding the older material is becoming a tough task for young collectors who haven't had the benefit of living through transitional design and composition changes.  Ultra modern releases offer the best mix of value, variety, and potential winfall.  And the best part?  Moderns are an overlooked arena in cherrypicking that I firmly believe will pick up steam in the next 10-15 years.  Here's a selection of notable varieties that can be found in the modern era of coinage.

Lincoln's left hand may make you go
dizzy!  Check for some rather dramatic
doubling for a modest winfall.
2009-P Formative Years Lincoln Cent - Doubled Die Reverse

Comes in dozens and dozens of different variations, the second release in the commemorative series of Lincoln cents boasts a wonderful and highly collectible Doubled Die Reverse.  Examine Lincoln's hand to have a doubled digit, or two or three.  It just goes to prove that modern technology can have its mistakes as well.  More dramatic and raw examples sell in the $10-$50 range, lessor examples in the $5-10 area.

2005-D Washington Quarter - Wisconsin High & Low Leaf
Intentional or not, the low and high leaf
varieties sparked a frenzy for not just veteran
coin collectors, but for new ones as well.

The clock struck high noon at the release of the Wisconsin state quarter. Variety pickers were greeted with what would be the "top flight" variety in the state quarters program until the next coin on this list surfaced. Some would speculate that this is not an error, but an exercise of intentional behavior at the mint. Raw finds from pocket change pop up on occasion, and these little gems still sell in the $35-$100 range.  Mint state examples climb to multi-hundred dollar prices.

Doubled Duke!  These have been
spotted in change before, keep a look
out on this elusive doubled die.
2009-D Washington Quarter - D.C. Doubled Die Reverse

The Wisconsin looked to have the lead in the "ultimate" variety state quarter until this little rarity was discovered.  For those of you on the west coast lucky enough to find this dramatic doubled example, this is not only one of the top varieties of the modern era.  But it's a highly sought after piece that garners upwards of $2k-3k in mint state. To give collectors an idea of scarcity, examples pop up on Ebay about twice a year.  The crisp clockwise spread is one of the most notable in half a decade of modern coining.

Presidential Gold Dollars - Missing Edge/Inverted Lettering

Commonly overlooked and passed up for the paper dollar, the presidential series of gold dollars are a true variety hunters haven. Beginning with the first coin in the series to portray Mr. Washington himself, collectors or public transit users found many examples with the missing edge lettering that usually houses the date and motto.  Steam quickly picked up on the secondary market as these sold for several hundred dollars and the collector base expanded.  Today, MEL variety
dollars are found on most of the presidents and make for a great direction in modern variety hunting in spite of a cooler market.  Also looked for doubled and inverted edge lettering, these sell on similar levels.

Sacagawea Mule and "Cheerios" Dollars

The most exciting part about collecting coins are the folk lores that one can come across.  First on the bucket of profit list is the "Cheerios" Sacagawea dollar.  These were inserted in specially marked boxes of cereal of its namesake.  Cheerios dollars are best identifiable by the sharp engraved tail feathers on the reverse.  These sell regularly in the $2k-3k range in an auction setting.  The coin you see (pictured) is what is called the fabled Sacagawea Mule.  For this trial piece, the obverse of a state quarter was struck in conjunction with the reverse of the dollar coin on a gold dollar planchet.  A tale of two dies is more appropriate for this abnormality.  None have been found searching rolls or change, but now collectors will know what one looks like if he/she comes across one.  Auction estimates and previous sales go for many tens of thousands of dollars.

In closing, hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to ultra modern variety hunting.  But if these examples are any indication of what the future might hold, I would certainly reserve your front row seat and get ready to search for the next big find.  Good luck hunting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spotlight in History - 1944 Lincoln Cents - Variety Bound and Plentiful for all Budgets

The nation was several years into the tumultuous war of the nations in 1944.  What exactly had transpired numismatically during that period?  In the efforts of rationing copper, nickel and other industrial metals for war use, the U.S. minted zinc-coated steel cents in 1943 and Jefferson nickels were struck on combination silver/manganese alloy stock.  After the one-shot 1943 date, the nickels were still silver at this point, but the U.S. had decided to transition back into production a copper alloy Lincoln cent that we're all used to seeing in daily commerce.  If there was any real difference, you could see it in the color of the bright red hues of the newly struck cents.  The look was somewhat more subdued in comparison to an uncirculated 1942 Lincoln cent, and they seem to tarnish to brown a little faster.  A lot of this had to do with the recycling program the mint was participating in, disposed shell casings were smelted and reformed into copper sheets for Lincoln cent production purposes.  Not only was it another transition point in U.S. coinage, but it would chronicle to be a "gateway" date to what would be a variety lover's paradise until the Wheat design came to a close in 1958.  With millions upon millions of 1944 cents produced, there were a number of "chase" varieties to be found.  Here are the most notable:

1944 Cents Struck on Leftover Zinc-Coated Steel Blanks

Rare 1944-D Lincoln cent mistakenly
struck on a leftover steel planchet from
the 1943 campaign.
Purported over history as one of the marquee mistakes in U.S. coinage.  An example of the 1943 copper cent was the dream coin, it was never supposed to be found in the wild.  As a result of long man hours at the mint, smaller than usual production staff, and billions of coins minted during it's day, the accidental release of one of these off-planchet coins was a sure thing.  With a small grouping of examples found, graded, and sold through notable auction venues over the years, the 1943 has gradually increased in not only value (last examples selling for $100k's of thousands), but also popularity because more and more people want the elusive coin.  And so enter the copper 1943's younger brother, the 1944 steel cent.  Not only is it more rare than its sibling, but it's a dramatic version only to be overshadowed by conspiracy.  It truly is a remarkable and true find in numismatics, and one that will gain in popularity as the rare coinage market continues its upbeat tempo.

1944 D/S Over Mint Mark Varieties

Famous for its mugshot in Whitman's
Redbook Price Guide, the 1944 D/S
varieties are not only monumental chase
pieces in cherrypicking, they are also a
popular variety that is making its way into
more and more wish lists.
The Denver mint has been a driving force since it's opening in the early 20th century.  What it had been known for, was it's strict standards of quality control that far surpassed the Philly and San Francisco minting facilities.  Denver's mint had released several "oops" coins that have made its way to the public such as the 1911-D/D cent and the 1942/41-D Mercury Dime.  The 1944 D/S became the heir apparent and the eventual placemarker for modern day variety hunting.  Because of it's appeal and availability as a very findable key, it has been pulling more and more bag searchers in the hopes that one of the dozens of 1944's will exhibit the drastic over mint mark.  The great news is that there are two varieties of over mint marks for the date, and both are worth the money in the marketplace because the collector base is strong for this variety. In conclusion, I can see the popularity rising as a result of phenomenal market activity.  

Other great attributes to the 1944 cent:  
*Lots of brilliant uncirculated examples still exist today for less than a dollar, great date to hoard in any mint mark variation.  
*Can't find the fabled 1944 D/S?  That's okay, because there are over (count them) 90 various Doubled Dies and Re-punched mint marks to be found.

Photos courtesy of and Heritage Auctions.  For more information on this date in Lincoln cent history, please feel free to visit or

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Change Jar + Low Silver Price = Great Coin Roll Searching Opportunities

Oh boy, it's that magical time of the year again.  And one that usually raises my visitation level at any bank or Coinstar machine.  Between November 15th and New Year's, most folks empty out their change jars to gear up for a busy gift buying season.  What makes this year a little bit more better, is that silver is trading at a nice low compared to the last five years of holiday change jar purging.  So far in the last few weeks, I've uncovered a much better ratio of copper/wheats to zinc cents and have found $3.10 face in silver coinage already!!. In comparison to last year's efforts, I'm up double.  Additionally, the quality of the varieties are up way more than the preceding years.

If anything I'm pointing out is any indication to the last four weeks of what I like to call "coin roll hunting season" will look like, then I might just have to triple my bank visits.  Best of luck hunting and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Looking for U.S. Coins With the Best Profit Return? Consider Cherrypicking These Series

Cherrypicking, cherrypicking, cherrypicking...this is a customary practice that can make any treasure hunter great money in the hobby.  Contrary to what the experts think about numismatics, coins can bring phenomenal potential in the market that is otherwise dominated by bullion demand.  As some of you have seen, we have survived yet another downward spiral in precious metals in recent months. So if you're not a fulltime investor or an aggresive stacker that trades high volumes of any one precious metal, then there's not a whole lot of money to be made unless you are a dealer who would traditionally buy low and sell high.  But if you're looking to turn around 50%-5000% in profit on one coin without having to deal with stock brokers or other middlemen, then cherrypicking valuable varieties is for you.

To site an example of my most recent find, I recently bought a small bag of wheat cents through a dealer that I work with regularly here in California.  Now I'm not too naive, but my first impression of any bulk coin purchase is that I'm sure these have been picked through of most of the Red Book known rare dates that are synonymous with the series.  However, I'm about 99.9% sure that the lessor known varieties have been left unscathed by the naked eye.  About half way through the 2000 piece bag, I found an amazing example of a mint state red/brown 1956-D re-punched mintmark variety.  The coin is designated #008 through Wexler's files and exhibits that unmistakable and completely separated mint mark that is south of the primary D (refer to photo below). In comparison to what I had paid on average for each cent in the bag (.05 cents), I turned around and auctioned this little gem on eBay to the tune of $36.25.  And this does not include fees and shipping.

Now here's the whopper, let's calculate the exact percent increase from what I originally invested to what I grossed before fees.  I subtracted the current value ($36.25) minus the starting price (.05 cents) to get $36.20.  Then I'll simply divide the resulting dollar amount by the starting investment value to get 724.  And finally, I'll multiply the result from step two by 100 and I'll come out with the staggering number of 72,400%. Now this is not typical and is an extreme example of a great cherrypick.  But I'll be frank, these types of gains are much more common than you would leave it to be, especially in the Lincoln cent series where there is a myriad of various mint mark varieties that are not published in the "everyday" coin book.  And this is why the Lincoln cent series makes it into my top 5 U.S. coin series that hold great potential for that "home run" find.  Let's take a look at some marquee U.S. series.

#5 - Morgan Dollars

Simply put, Morgan dollars were the quintessential coin of the latter part of the 19th century.  Nothing screams out Americana than a great big silver cartwheel in your hand, let alone a hefty pocket full.  What some owners of these giant disks may not know, is that millions were produced during a time when die maintenance was of low priority. With the low maintenance standards of the dies, there are a great deal of ridiculous varieties that can be found in all dates of the series, even the plentiful 1921.  Referring to previous auction estimates, some of the rarest Morgan varieties can sell for many thousands of dollars if it's in VAM world's Top 100 list.  For more information, please visit

#4 - Mercury Dimes

Albiet a short series in some regards, the Mercury dime series has plenty to offer in terms of great varieties. Some of the well known dates include the 1942/41, 1942/1-D, 1936 DDO and just about any quasi common date with full split bands.  The most recent "big flip", turned out to be an eBay auction set of 1942 BU dimes with P-D-S coins.  The Denver example was the overdate with great looking split bands.  In the end, the new owner got it graded NGC MS65+ w/FSB, turning $20 into $20,000.  Such a phenomenal case of profiteering, and an extra boost to any "would-be" treasure hunter!

#3 - Half Cents & Large Cents

There's never been a larger collector base than the Early American Coppers Society.  The great thing I love about these coins is there are a wide range of dates and designs that encompass a true marvel in collecting varieties. The prices on these go from mild to wild in a hurry, but if you can cherrypick a sought after variety, you will quickly seek out the collectors who are missing that "trophy" coin and will bid aggresively. Sometimes it's not out of the question that some of the common dates can fetch over five figures in an auction setting. Online references are rather small, but if you can find books published by the originating attributors (Cohen - Sheldon - Newcomb), these are the premier sources for getting you hooked on historically important coins.

#2 - Indian Head Cents

Gaining in popularity ever since Richard Snow has begun to take his interest full force in the series, Indian Head Cents are probably the best and most available for their age on this list.  Jaw dropping 1888/7 overdates and early white cent variants have been coming to the forefront on various message boards recently. Which can attest to the sheer availability of some of the scarcest varieties that have yet to be cherrypicked. Other notable varieties to be found are re-punched dates, misplaced date numbers, doubled dies and clashed dies.  All I can say about Mr. Snow's conquest is ...thanks for making the Indian Head Cent series a variety hunters dream!!

#1 - Lincoln Cents

No series comes close to cherrypicking dominance than the Lincoln cent series.  There's more than meets the eye here, lots of doubled dies, RPM's, OMM's, transitionals, errors, and a comprehensive grading core that breaks down mint state color from brown to red.  In addition, there's a wide support of online resources from some of the favorite pros in the series.  There is absolutely no shortage of buyers for the known varieties, and this is the largest collector base in the hobby.  Here's a short list of those sites, don't forget to bookmark them:
Here's the example of my 72,000% return on my investment.  This is the
elusive 1956-D Lincoln Cent with repunched mintmark that is separated south
of the primary mintmark.  Varieties like this exist with continuous searching
and knowledge!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Huntin' Dem Jefferson Nickels: Series and Varieties at a Glance

Check out the myriad of varieties that are not only searchable, but can net a tidy premium when you sell it.

1939 DDR Monticello- Easily distinguishable by the dramatic separation in the words "Monticello" and "Five Cents".  This is the marquee doubled die date in the series.  To date, numerous examples have been found coin roll hunting.  Circulated VG examples sell in the $30 range, a MS65 with bold full steps can sell upwards of $9k per the PCGS price guide.  A rewarding and sweet find in any condition!

1954 S/D- Talk about the sleepers of the series, the over mint marked coins of the early dates in the series feature a host of opportunities for coin roll hunters and cherrypickers alike.  Some dates, such as this 1954, and the 1955 D/S are an easy spot with the naked eye.  The 1949 D/S is the main over mint marked date, so be sure to check all pieces you come across. As you can see from our reference photo, the underlying D in this one is quite apparent and noticeable.  Lower grade circulated examples have been an easy sell in the $10-15 range, and mid-mint state examples command in the $100-150 arena.  Easy money!

1942 D/Horizontal D- And for the finale, the D over horizontal D is the cherrypicker's dream.  With higher graded AU+ examples, the underlying D is clearly defined.  Make use of a good glass with a power of 6x or higher to make sure.  Often times the circulated examples hide some grease or dirt that masks the true diagnostics.  Reported lower graded examples sell consistently in the $50 area while monster graded mint state pieces command close to $1k.
Photos courtesy of PCGS coinfacts

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Show Preperation List - Newly Bloomed Cherry Blossoms Lead Way to New Pickers

The spring/summer seasons are quickly upon us.  While not a major factor in the hobby of numismatics, it is a perfect time to really go out into the show circuit and try your hand at some aggressive cherrypicking.  As of this writing, the early spring Baltimore show just wrapped up.  Many dealers reported brisk sales and a lofty attendance rate at this year's show.  One thing's for certain, the cherrypicking masses were out in full force.  Their ultimate goal? search through brand new inventory of coins and currency in the hopes of finding a great money maker.  If you're in the hobby to collect, then it's hard to attend a show of this caliber with the mindset that it's work time, not fun hobby time.  There are scores of collectors young and old that attend these shows to take part in what would be the next "big story" in the hobby.

*Build Trust- Cherrypicking can be somewhat frowned upon, especially if you look through dozens of boxes without making a purchase.  What is even a more detrimental to the customer/dealer rapport building process, is using plain old ignorance.  What I tell most "first timers" to the show circuit, "Really get to know who you're dealing with, most of these guys have ties to some of the most powerful people in the hobby.  One day this dealer can be your biggest advocate, so don't ignore them.  Engage them with a good spirited, hello!"  These guys are ready and willing to make a sale to recoup the loss of money it takes to buy the space at the show.  In many cases, thousands of dollars are the norm.  Dealers at these big events vary in their respective specialties.  So going into a show, focus your interest with the dealer that sells those coins.  Not only will it be a tremendous time saver, but you'll show respect to the dealer by working with his wares that also interest you.  Makes for a great ice breaker!

*Research- Please, no carrying of books to the shows!  No self respecting dealer appreciates a cherrypicker who is simply out to pick through his/her stock without making a purchase. And the book reference is all they need to know about your intent.  Do your research in advance, feel free to jot down a selection or range of dates from your favorite series to work off of.  The dealer will think you have a grocery list of coins you're looking to get, rather than something that might insult mister nice guy.  And oh, please do carry your smart phone with you, with favorite sites that are bookmarked for quick reference.

*Magnifier- Carry a good one at all times.  A 10x power Hastings Triplet glass has everything a cherrypicker needs to identify most varieties in all series.  Mint mark variety experts should carry a 20x or 30x to be able to make out an RPM or Over Mint Mark varieties.  And best of all, make sure it stays clean.  There's nothing worse than having an oily magnifier.  It's just that much more tougher to distinguish certain elements of a coin.

And most important of all, Focus on the Excitement of attending your first show.  It might be overwhelming at first, but it will good practice to get your cherrypicking juices flowing.  Bust your cherry!!

Keep on Hunting!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hunting for the Perfect Full Split Banded Mercury Dime

The Mercury dime collection is probably the most recognizable, if not the quintessential coin among all numismatists.  What it offers is affordability, knockout design, and the distinct ability of being the consistent seller in the marketplace.  Speaking of design aesthetics, the Mercury dime isn't really the famed Mercury, the Roman god of Abundance.  It was designed to be Lady Liberty, with winged tiara that signifies free thought.  The reverse, simply an axe head mounted on a bundle of sticks called a fasces along with sprigs of olive.  For the Mercury Dime collectors, it's these very fasces that carry tremendous weight in the overall value, especially in the mint state ranges.  "Full Split Bands" is a trait that is seen on the tied strings that hold the fasces together, if the strike is strong, you will see the separation line (see reference photo) that it takes to own the term.
Shown are the middle set of strings on the
fasces.  While there are three sets of strings,
the middle set will determine if you have
a valuable example, or just a regular MS
graded dime.
Photo courtesy of PCGS

Full split banded Mercury dimes exist in all dates.  However, there are few select dates that merit extra scrutiny when you go to cherrypick for the variety.  One in particular, the 1945-P is extremely difficult to find with clean full split bands.  They are either very flat, or they are oh so close to having splits, only to have connected interruption.  Seeing as this was the final year of the design, the mint employees were very lazy in re-engraving these dies.  Conservatively graded PCGS 64 FB examples have sold in the $5k-$5.5k range and they go up into the five figures if you're able to hit one in 65 or higher.  Another valuable date is the 1919-S, these too fetch five figure paydays in anything higher than 65.  So the next time you're out at the dealer or show, take some time to search through all the Mercury dimes.  Because there is bound to be that special coin that can make your year.  

Good luck hunting!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hunting for the Perfect Silver Bullion Bars

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually some silver bullion bars and rounds that are worth more than their weight as the old saying goes.  For example, I have accounted on numerous occasions the times that I have searched through a scrap/generic bullion box at my local brick & mortar, only to cherrypick a couple key pieces that I know for sure are worth so much more on the secondary market.  But wait a minute, aren't all bullion bars worth what the melt value is for that point in time?  Not really, there's actually an elite grouping of collectible bars that exist in the marketplace.  Being able to discern those pieces out of the bunch will not only net "flip sellers" the opportunity to make some extra money, but will enable the true collectors of these "one off" bars to fill an empty hole in their collection.  Here are three of the top brand labeled bars to keep an eye out on.

*Royal Canadian Mint Bars- They're built no differently than any other .999 bar in the market today, so what makes the RCM bar such a great bar to resell in the market?  First and foremost, the aforementioned bar has been discontinued for production since 1988.  This is significant because most pieces have been bought  and melted during the ramp up of silver prices back in 2008.  There are less available in the market and they are truly rare because the RCM has been the only mint at the time to produce their own generic branded bars.  With a sample spot price of $28, these would command over double of what the melt value is.  Definitely one to keep and eye out on.

*Johnson Matthey Bars- So what's the deal, these are still produced  at a regular rate, so the JM bars shouldn't be on the list?  Or should it?  Well, there's a reasonable explanation to the number two listing of uncommon bars, and it has nothing to do with the generic one ounce flavors.  As you can see from the photo reference, the odd ball sized bars are what drives that healthy secondary market.  So anything in the single gram, 1/4 oz., 1/2, 2 oz., 5 , 10 and 20 ounce bars apply to the cherrypicks of the bunch.  Collectible for the variety of sizes along with the scant numbers due to millennium melting has placed these bars high on the "profit" pole.  In conclusion, with attractive designs and great quality finishing, JM bars have a multitude of attributes that make it a great bar to find and sell.

*Coca Cola Art Bars- What more can be said about any collectible with the storied Coke brand?  Anything with the Coke branding is a gauntlet in the collectibles marketplace, so it's only natural that a silver bar designed by Coke would be a no-brainer choice to search for.  These have phenomenal profit margin potential as I've seen the common one ounce bars sell in excess of $100 or more.  While the JM and RCM bars are an easier cherrypick, the Coke bars won't be much so.  They're a target of dealers when they come in from a sale and are easily recognizable as a profit vehicle.  With that said, just be mindful of what the Coke bars are in the collectibles community.  They are a runaway hit every single time and they don't lose value in relation to a bearish metals market.  Die hard Coke collectors will overpay every single time and feel good about it.

*Honorable Mention-  Engelhard Prospector Rounds, Late 90's Britannia's, 1996 American Silver Eagles, Un-carded Credit/Pamp Suisse bars

Good luck hunting!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Most Overlooked: 1970-S Small Date Lincoln Cents

Here's my most recent cherrypick, it's a Proof set plucked 1970-S Small Date Lincoln Memorial cent.  I was fortunate enough to buy this complete proof set for only $7 as part of a blowout sale.  This coin consistently sells in the open market for about $50-$70 as a raw example.  Generally it wouldn't make any sense to grade something like this, unless you were sure it was a perfect coin that has the chance of grading 69 or 70.  This example had the typical unattractive "white haze" that is the norm for these earlier proof sets.

Under close magnification, you'll want to make sure your example has the high "7" that is flush with the top of the "0" in the date.  And of course look out for the weakly struck "Liberty".  Good luck hunting!

Cherrypick Challenge: Can you find a Full Steps 1960's Jefferson Nickel?

Quick history on Full Steps Jefferson Nickels

The Jefferson Nickel series is one of the most widely collected modern series to date.  I would be safe to say it rivals the Lincoln cent series, but no where near the volume of mainstream collectors.  There is however, a tight knit group of variety experts in this series called the "Full Steppers".  Jefferson enthusiasts whose primary objective is to seek out the most pristine 1938-current nickels with the highly acclaimed "Full Steps" designation, are some of the most dedicated bunch in numismatics.  To date, the 1980's-2010's ranges of Jefferson nickels are the easiest to find with full and robust 6 steps on the reverse Monticello image.  So finding them isn't hard at all, what does pose a challenge is finding a full stepped modern strike in anything higher than a 68 grade, damn near perfection!  Make sure those examples are "ding" free with clear fields and sharp contrast devices.

One especially challenging decade of full step Jeffersons is the 1960's.  A quick look at the PCGS or NGC populations will illustrate just how difficult it is to find truly sharp struck full step nickels.  It was just a weak decade for die maintenance at the mint, which attributes to the tough task of locating even a 5 step variety.  So here's my challenge to all you cherrypickers out there, locate an amazing 1960's full stepper.  Sharply struck examples fetch over five figures for a graded example!

As you treasure hunt the full steps...

Check out online auctions, buy full boxes of nickels at the bank, and cherrypick out of dealer stock, those will be your best bets in locating one.  Arm yourself with a magnifier with at least 10x power, 20x is best.  And try to stay away from full steppers with any nicks or dents that break up the stair lines, these won't grade with the "FS" designation.   

Keep in mind, to most coin collectors and even everyday people, the Jefferson nickel can be a boring series for them.  The upside is that there are tons of nickels to pick through, this would be a great time to start cherrypicking for those rare full step dates.  Are you up to the challenge?

Good luck hunting!

How Can Blue Ridge Help You Sell Your Collection?

Hey guys, my name is Shaun, some of you know me as Blue Ridge Silver Hound on Youtube.  It's been a real pleasure meeting the demands of all of the new and veteran collectors out there.  And education in such a competitive marketplace, is one of the key components to successful buying, selling, and collecting.  Not only do I provide some key information regarding the latest market trends in numismatics, but I am also an active appraiser and broker to a lot of small, medium and large collections.

Here's what I can do for you today:  If you have a collection that you have amassed over the years, or have inherited a collection from a loved one.  I can help you inventory, quote the total or single value of your collection, and can help sell your coins and currency.  My time and yours are completely valuable, which allows me to provide a first rate consultation service that is not only quick but accurate as well.  The initial discussion of what you have and would like to ultimately achieve costs nothing.

Cataloging/Appraisal Service:  Whether you need a thorough inventory or appraisal of your collection, enthusiasts will find that I charge some of the lowest rates around.  My inventory cataloging method is an excel spreadsheet format.  I charge $35 for every 100 coins cataloged and appraised with the most up to date market values, no "book values" are used but actual values stemming from real world prices. We can work out a bulk deal for larger lots, I'm extremely flexible and this is definitely something we can chat about in the initial consultation.

Selling?:  If you need help selling your collection, I will recommend the best avenues to ensure the quickest and most profitable transactions.  I use a montage of methods to liquidate your collection, including local dealer/broker networks, eBay, and Heritage Auctions are among some of the outlets I use to sell your collection.  In addition to selling your collection, I also aide you in any tax implications that may arise as a result of your sales.  To emphasize, my fees are the lowest around.  I charge 10% of the total sales value and any auction fees involved will be paid for by the seller of the collection.

Any questions?:  I'm always available for for the initial consultation, please feel free to email me at

Please have the utmost confidence in my service, I have over 5 years in the business as a professional appraiser of bullion and numismatics.  I am a member of the American Numismatic Assoc. and the Royal Canadian Numismatic Assoc.  I possess over 15 years in numismatics and will know a lot about what the hobby has to offer both sellers and buyers.  My primary expertise covers U.S. Type/Colonial Coins, Canadian, and Post-Civil War Currency.

Tools for Cherrypicking Success!

Cherrypicking isn't just about going out and looking at coins, but it's about knowing which coins will turn you a positive upside, whether for resale or trade.  Let me tell you a quick story about a recent discovery.  One of my forum mates recently cherrypicked a sterling P,D,S set of 1942 Mercury Dimes on eBay.  Not knowing what to expect (because there is this famous overdate for the year), the dimes were in tremendous shape based off the decent photos.  With the long shot of actually picking a fine overdate specimen, this member purchased the 3-coin set.  Upon receipt several days later, the forum member actually found the mother of all overdates, he picked the 1942/41 D black mamba!  After sharing his discovery, he turned in the prized possession to NGC where it grade high in the census at a whopping 65+ with full split bands!  Today, this beauty will command in the neighborhood of $20k-$25k, not bad for turning $30 into a five figure payday!

So what did we get out of this?  First of all, this individual had first hand knowledge of the Mercury Dime series.  He has become a professional at the series, knowing much about the history of the date range and the key dates.  One of the most important tools to success, was his education.  He has spent countless hours reading on Mercury Dimes and has practiced the grading standards that accompany it.  Additionally, he used countless internet sources to find the potential coins he's looking for to fulfill a need.  It's with these few resources, or tools, that he was able to cherrypick such an amazing coin, with very few dollars to contribute in the end.

So with this story in mind and the resources used to his success, let's talk about a few resources that will come in handy when you consider the hobby of cherry picking.

*Books- Books are important for several reasons.  They are quick references when it comes to identifying coins and their respective varieties.  The most elementary resource is Whitman Publishing's "The Red Book to U.S. Coins".  While the prices highlighted left a lot to be desired, the Red Book is your basic tool to gain a full understanding of each U.S. series at a glance.  It's the best beginner's book for the numismatist.  Another great reference is the "Cherrypicker's Guide to Rare Die Varieties".  This is where you will begin your search for them rare and valuable finds.  Don't just read about these varieties, but get to know them by your favorite series.  Once you recognize what the marquee varieties are, you will be able to cherrypick them from dealer cases and eBay auctions without the need of the book in front of you.

*Spy Glass-Some varieties are so tough to identify by the naked eye, this makes a great magnifier an important tool to have.  If you're able to find a good quality glass like a Hasting's Triplet 10x, it's going to be the most important tool for your show circuit visits.  There are 20x and 30x magnifiers in the marketplace as well and are great for finding re-punched mintmarks and over mintmarks, be sure to find one with a good LED light as you have to get in real close to the coin.

*Smart phone- While not a huge necessity, a great smart phone has a lot of advantages.  There are a multitude of websites dedicated to series specific cherrypicking, a smart phone will allow you to access these sites on the fly so you can compare diagnostics with the site photo references.  You can bookmark these sites and even blow up reference photos with a quick sweep of your fingers to help you examine the finer details.  I would highly consider a smart phone if it's in the budget, I have had several cherrypicks that required a photo reference online.  It was a make or break deal!

Now go out there and keep hunting!  Best of luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Entry Level Cherrypicking - Re-punched Mint Marks & Over Mint Marks

Understanding re-punched mintmarks and how it happened.

The 1950's were a strong decade of dominance for
the re-punched mintmark.  They can be found
pretty regularly and most circulated examples sell
in the $1.00-2.00 range.

Going back into the 1800's when the established mints were experimenting with adding mintmarks to the coins, the tiny letters were hand punched into the working dies.  How it worked was the mint employee took a thin steel punch with the letter on the tip, he/she then sets it on a designated area on the die face and then taps the punch with a small hammer to leave behind the impression of the mark.  In some instances, the marks had to be reset and re-punched into the working die for several reasons.  One is the mint employee inadvertently punches the incorrect mintmark on the coins, therefore causing a secondary punch to correct the mistake.  Second, if a mint employee punches a mintmark weakly or out of place, he/she would have to re-punch the mark.  In turn making a permanent impression of the repunch on a planchet when it's struck through the minting process.  There are cases where the mintmark would be punched up to 5-6 times in one go, making for a very dramatic minting variety.  

Over mint marks were created much the same way.  In this case, a D (Denver) mintmark can be punched over an S (San Francisco) mintmark and vice versa.  These mintmark varieties are not nearly as common as the same mint re-punch and are generally more tougher to find in circulation.  For example, the 1944 D/S Lincoln Cent and the 1954 S/D Jefferson Nickel are some of the well known and most sought after over mint marks in existence.  And therefore these possess a much more robust secondary market.
Here's a great example of an earlier 1930's
RPM.  As you can see, there is a well
defined separation in the serifs of the "S".

Where's a good place to find them?

Typically I'll tell any novice cherrypicker to start with your pocket change, specifically anything before 1982 and focus on the Lincoln cent series.  There is a large population of RPM's in the 60's and 70's Lincoln Memorial cents than any other denomination for that time period.  A good condition RPM in any date in this range is an outstanding find, as these are an easy sell in the $.50-1.00 price range.  It may not seem like a whole lot, but where else can you get 50x-100x your face value?  I've personally had the pleasure of finding several dozen examples out of a $25.00 bank box of cents.  

Once you've recognized and experimented with the 60's-70's coinage, the wheat cent series of the 40's and 50's are another great jumping up point.  These are the magical years for RPM's.  And finally, once you've established a great wealth of knowledge of the subject, try your hand at cherrypicking in dealer stock boxes. Where you can dive into the more pricier series like the seated liberty's and Buffalo nickels.  Every RPM and OMM is worth many times over face, so why not exhaust all of your resources?

For as long as I've been in numismatics, i'm still very fond of this date range and to this day I still search for RPM's and OMM's.  Searching 10,000 wheaties in a month for 12 months, generated over $5k in profit for the 2012 year.  Again while not a huge profit per piece initially, a total collection is worth near a king's ransom.  So why not give it a try?

Good luck hunting!