In U.S. Mint history, one of the best known examples of recycling
occurred when the Carson City Mint was officially closed. When its
holdings were inventoried, several reverse dies were found and
refurbished for use at the Branch Mint in New Orleans.
The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace
Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis details the use of
five reverses of over Mint marks paired with six distinct obverse
dies, forming six marriages. Additionally, four major stages are
known. With a group of collectors pursuing all of the reported
variations of these 1900-O/CC Morgan dollars, a gap in the progression
VAM-7, -7A, -10 and -10A all share the same reverse, with the VAM-7
coin as its earliest stage. The dies clashed during the VAM-7 pairing,
leaving single clash marks on both obverse and reverse. The obverse
began to break and chip along the top of the date in the stage called VAM-7A.
The obverse die was then swapped out forming the VAM-10, first
reported by Martin Field in September 1979. A strong die clash with a
portion of the letter N from the motto IN GOD WE TRUST transferred to
the obverse field was reported by Ash Harrison in June 2003. This
stage is listed as VAM-10A. It has a single clash on the obverse and
doubled clashes on the reverse.
In the years since Harrison’s discovery, all examples of the VAM-10
marriage have been noted with the obverse clash, although a portion
are a later stage with the letter transfer worn away.
There should be a stage, from right after the die swap, with no
In January, collector Brad Bellomo showed a number of fellow
numismatists an example that appears to be the missing stage.
Specialists do not universally agree that his piece is the early die
stage of the VAM-10 dollar, but I had the chance to examine,
photograph and certify the coin.
I must wholeheartedly agree with Bellomo’s opinion, “I think it’s a