About VAMS column from June 22, 2015, issue of Coin World:
Individuals familiar with the Comprehensive Catalog and
Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen
and A. George Mallis know the 1895-S Morgan dollars have two dramatic
repunched Mint mark varieties, the VAM-3 and VAM-4 dollars. These two
RPMs are fairly common among examples of this date. With a
comparatively low mintage of 400,000, the 1895-S Morgan dollar is
considered one of the better dates in the series.
In June 2004, a pair of Morgan dollar variety specialists, Tim
Cannard and Dennis Halladay, were pleasantly surprised to find a
strong die break on the reverse of an example in Halladay’s collection.
Their find, now known as VAM-1A, can be spotted by the naked eye. It
is instantly identifiable by its distinctive break, which begins at
the rim, passes through the dentils, jogs through the D of DOLLAR, and
then forks through the Mint mark, reaching the wreath.
The obverse is fairly nondescript, but it exhibits patterns of die
scratches in the letters of LIBERTY and in gaps in the lower hair.
These obverse markers are in protected areas and will stand up to a
moderate degree of circulation. While unnecessary for attribution of
an example with the clear reverse break, they would help identify an
example of this exact marriage in an earlier die stage.
The VAM-1A 1895-S Morgan dollar is far more rare than its better
known counterparts. Both of the RPM varieties are represented by
several hundred pieces. Despite being known for over a decade, and
having a main feature that easily lends itself to cherrypicking, even
in auction photographs found online, only 10 confirmed examples of
VAM-1A are known.
The finest known example is graded and certified as Extremely Fine
45. A pricing history has yet to be firmly established, but a strong
premium should be expected.
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