Reading: What is a VAM Morgan Silver Dollar?
Die Variety and Identification
Die kind and designation can sound a little submerge but the premise is simple. think of it like this : how and why is this Morgan different than it ‘s counterparts ? Die varieties have been noticed for decades but it went to a whole raw grade in the 1960 ‘s. Through the efforts of Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis these differences would be studied and cataloged. Their work would have collectors scrutinizing every Morgan and Peace Silver Dollar they owned and a raw term was born, VAM. It is actually an acronym of the names V an A llen and M allice shad. The small differences between dies would forever change silver dollar collect. Shop Morgan Dollars here
Variety vs. Error Some collectors first saw VAM coins as mistakes or errors but that is decidedly incorrect. The definition of an error is a mismade or defective coin. A variety is a process that has the same characteristics repeated on each coin struck from the same die or dies. A good example is the 7/8 Tail Feather Morgan pictured above. Those dies were intentionally changed from 8 to 7 tail feathers and resulted in a hale carry of 7 tail feathers on top of the original 8 stern feathers. It happens in advanced coins besides. In 2008, the West Point mint unwittingly struck a minor batch of Silver Eagles with a 2007 turn back die and a new collectible was born ! Varieties are not all mistakes, specially in the Morgans. back in 1878 there were no lasers or computers to get everything perfect and a lot of the finely details were done by hand. naturally, each time a die was touched it would turn out differently. Through all of the years, the little differences matter !
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Should You Collect VAM’S? To answer this, I will jump up and land with a foot on each side of the fence ! All collectors love the fact that they can have something that not everyone can own. otherwise, it would not be collectible ! That being said, there are hundreds of VAM ‘s that have been identified and obtaining all of them would be an exercise in futility. The most common and collectible VAM ‘s have earned the nickname of “ top 100 ”. There is another group known as the “ Hot 50 ”. I do think every Morgan collector credibly has a VAM or two and may not flush know. The top marking services ( NGC and PCGS ) typically notate VAM ‘s on certify coins but a bunch of us own uncertified coins. With a little homework and a good loupe, it ‘s fun to check your own Morgans for varieties. Knowing the fib behind our coins is often deoxyadenosine monophosphate much fun as obtaining them and the little details can mean an frightful draw !