Michael Bugeja

Online Coin Auctions

Michael Bugeja

Michael Bugeja, a coin collector since childhood, is a professor at Iowa State University and also a former member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. He is a nationally known author, journalist and educator.

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Cherrypicking the 1901 Morgan Double Die Reverse

During the past several years I have been able to identify in a few online auctions one of the rarest Morgan silver dollar varieties, or 1901 Doubled Die Reverse (DDR), also known as the VAM-3 Shifted Eagle.

VAM is an acronym for Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis, numismatists who cataloged varieties in their Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars.

The 1901 Morgan variety is considered one of the strongest double dies in the silver dollar series. A  misalignment of hub and die shifted the eagle and doubled the lower eagle wings, tail feathers, arrow shafts and arrowheads. As in the photo above (click to expand) you can see the dramatic doubling of the tail feathers--just as strong as the more popular and common 1878 Morgan 7 over 8 Tail Feathers.

I first wrote about the 1901 DDR in a Home Hobbyist column . I won such a coin in a John Leonard auction with a bid of $240. He identified the variety in his Proxibid description. PCGS slabbed the coin EF40, worth $1,600. 

On April 22, I spotted another 1901 DDR in an online Auction by Wallace session and won it with a bid of $275. It just graded EF45, worth $1,700. You can check the PCGS certification by clicking here.

This is yet another example of how numismatic knowledge empowers bidders in online auctions. The 1901 Morgan in lower grades is fairly common. Not so the Shifted Eagle reverse. The 1901 DDR that just graded was not listed as such in the Wallace auction description. I knew it, and that gave an edge over other bidders.

You can do the same now.


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