The standards we use in variety collecting and attribution have been in place for
over three decades and thus are well established. Cherrypickers prefer a 10x loupe, usually of the Hastings
triplet type, such as the one manufactured by Bausch & Lomb.
The Hastings triplet is composed of three layers of optical
glass. So it offers high magnification with no distortion
around the edges. There are several reasons why this standard
was established. It is affordable (still around $40.00). It is
portable (easy to carry at coin shows). It allows you to see
almost the entire side of a Lincoln cent with one glance.
Furthermore, 10x is the standard for listability. If it
requires more than 10x to easily see the variety, it is not listable in
the CONECA files and thus probably not worth your time and money
to collect. Once in the study, a 20x-30x microscope is
used to identify the die diagnostics and confirm an attribution
of the variety.
Every attribution service has a standard for
listability. Some are well published, others not so.
Cherrypickers' Guide uses 7x. CONECA uses 10x. In order to be
listable in the CONECA files a die variety must be easily seen with
a 10x loupe. These standards were set in the 80s and early 90s.
The CONECA standard has been published in multiple places over
several decades. I am always reminding people of the standard.
There were several reasons why the standard was set at 10x. In the
1980's a 10x Hastings triplet loupe was expensive, but not
prohibitive for the average variety collector. Only die-hard
researchers bought microscopes which at the time were $1000 and only
ranged from 10x-60x. We used the microscopes to verify attributions
and take photos. Everyone cherrypicked with a 10x loupe. We fully
realized that with more magnification, more varieties would be
found, but we also realized that the average collector did not
"care." There was no interest in collecting varieties that could
not easily be seen. In fact, there still isn't (now 40 years later, just check the archives of the PCGS message board). As the files
began to be developed, we realized that there were more varieties to
be found even at 10x than we thought. The files began to mushroom
in size (now at close to 10,000 entries) and the standard helped us
keep the files manageable for a volunteer position. I have put
thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours into developing these files. Another reason the standard remains at
10x is because one of the goals of the files is for every collector
to be able to attribute their own variety coins. The files of some
other attributers contain 100+ entries for each date/mint. Trying to work
through that many listings to attribute a coin that might have a
premium value of $10.00 is insane. It takes more time than the
variety is worth. By holding the standard at 10x, the files are
much more manageable for everyone, attributer and collector alike.