Even casual collectors of Morgan dollars are well aware of the
1882-O/S varieties. Closer examination of an example often raises the
question of how this happened. The theorized answer does not enjoy
The Comprehensive Catalogue and Encyclopedia of Morgan &
Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis lists
three marriages of 1882-O/S Morgan dollar. Each of the varieties also
has an early die state that shows less of the underlying Mint mark.
This has been a primary source of confusion and controversy.
The VAM-3A 1882-O/S Morgan dollar is a fairly recent discovery
with portions of the letters US from TRUST clashed into the obverse.
It is a later die stage as several layers of clashmarks may be seen.
It is also important to note that it is a later die state,
demonstrated by significant flow lines. At this point, the dies were
clearly well worn. The early die state of the VAM-3 dollar is clearly
earlier in the progression. None of the clashing, flowlining or
mushiness of the VAM-3A state is present.
A persistent argument among specialists involves whether or not
the coins exhibit a true over Mint mark. The less evident features
within the Mint mark on the early die state can be difficult to
understand without explanation. In this era, several blows were needed
to sink the Mint mark to full depth. Each successive blow will push
metal outward where it can. The center of the Oval O Mint mark is a
particularly constrictive area. The displacement of the primary Mint
mark would have partially filled the secondary one.
In cross section the central channel would resemble a truncated
pyramid and may have not have been visible prior to use. The enormous
pressures of coining chipped away the thinly filled top of the channel
quickly leaving the familiar configuration.
It is also worth noting that none of known O/O repunched Mint
marks from this time frame display a similar progression. While
circumstantial, it is evidence that the variety looks like an O/S for
John Roberts is director of attribution services for ANACS. He is
a longtime collector of Morgan dollar varieties and is considered an
expert in attributing Morgan varieties.