With the Carson City Mint’s July 1, 1899, transition to assay work
only, an inventory of the no-longer-needed hardware uncovered at least
five Morgan dollar reverse dies. Provisions of the Coinage Act of 1873
mandated the destruction of dated working dies by the close of the
fiscal year, but no such requirement was in place for the other face.
The old dies were shipped back to the Philadelphia Mint and
repurposed for use at the New Orleans Mint by repunching an O Mint
mark over the existing CC Mint mark on each reverse die.
In the waning days of the 19th century, sinking a die to full
depth was a far more labor intensive effort than it is now. The
Philadelphia Mint die shop’s shortcut saved them a full week of
cyclical hubbing and annealing.
In 1900, the last dies from the Carson City Mint arrived at the
New Orleans facility and were put to work. No known accounts record
anyone noticing the reworked Mint mark until the November 1928 issue
of The Numismatist published an article by Will W. Neil titled “Mint
Marks, Or What Have You?” His O/CC discovery piece was part of the B.
Max Mehl auction of his holdings in 1947.
It is unknown which marriage Neil found, but the VAM-11 1900-O/CC
Morgan dollar would be the most likely. The variety was first formally
described and plated by Leroy Van Allen in his 1965 book Morgan and
Peace Dollar Varieties. It is one of the bolder examples of the O/CC
type and by far the most commonly encountered.
Accurately attributing a VAM-11 1900-O/CC Morgan dollar is a
fairly straightforward affair as both dies have decent markers. Beyond
the distinctive over Mint mark, the reverse can be identified by a
pattern of strong gouges filling the gap between the eagle’s neck and
wing. On the obverse, a long thread-like impression curls across the
lower part of Liberty’s cap. Collectors may also note a diagonal
scratch from the wheat to the I of PLURIBUS.
Finding an example that fits in well with your collection should
be fairly simple.
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.