About VAMS column from Nov. 23, 2015, issue of Coin World:
Research by Roger Burdette in his work A Guide Book of Peace
Dollars reveals production of the 1921 Peace dollar commenced on
Dec. 28. The Mint managed to manufacture a little over a million
pieces before closing on New Year’s Eve.
With a tight schedule and a largely untested design, some problems
with dies were only natural. When working dies developed flaws, the
Mint lacked sufficient time to replace them before the end of the
year. The Mint’s headaches have proven to be a boon for variety collectors.
One of the marriages that has an odd feature that it apparently
picked up during its run is the VAM-1B 1921 Peace dollar. It was first
reported by David Close in May 2002 and is cataloged in Wonders of
Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen. The variety has a bold dotlike
gouge above the N of ONE. This “dot” can be seen with the naked eye,
but under magnification its irregular shape is clearly apparent. The
odd shape would seem to support a nondeliberate origin. If this was
the only noteworthy characteristic on the piece, its root cause would
seemingly defy explanation.
However, the dies have bold evidence of a strong clashing strike and
subsequent polishing. The field next to the eagle’s shoulder has a
fairly sizable depressed area with the outlines of Liberty’s lower
hair. This itself is a little unusual as later Peace dollars typically
have a bold spike from the back of Liberty’s neck in this area. Since
the 1921 Peace dollars used a higher relief design, their clashmarks
simply look different.
Portions of the reverse rays may also be seen on the obverse,
protruding from the back edge of Liberty’s neck. These rays have been
partially effaced by subsequent polishing.
Clashing occurs when the dies strike each other without a planchet
between them. If the strike is hard enough, a portion of the opposing
die’s design will be coined into its mate’s face. The clash itself
doesn’t explain the “dot” that defines the VAM-1B die marriage,
because there is no feature on the obverse that would correspond to
this mark. The polishing job the Mint did to partially remove them
might though. It’s easy enough to imagine an errant slip of the hand
while trying to grind away at another part of the die face. While we
can guess at a cause, we may never really know.