US Coins

A most fascinating 1878-CC Morgan dollar variety

About VAMs column from the Nov. 28, 2016, issue of Coin World:

A few years ago, I authored a detailed study of a single date titled A Guide to the Varieties of the 1878 Carson City Morgan Dollar. The work expanded on and clarified listings as found in the Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis.

My VAM-19 entry was revised to reflect that two different but relatively nondescript obverse dies were paired with the reverse that defined the original Van Allen–Mallis listing.

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In February 2013, Mitch Hill discovered a new stage with a radial break through the R of AMERICA that reached the eagle’s wing. This was confirmed and listed as VAM-19B. While the new find was interesting in its own right, it also revealed a clear case of remarriage — dies that had been paired together, swapped out, and then reunited for further production. 

Several distinct stages involve the VAM-19 reverse. The earliest are paired with Van Allen’s obverse Die 1 or VAM-19.1 for short. Several rough lumps from the hub itself surround the E of ONE. These get polished out partway through its use before the Die 1 obverse is taken out of service. A new obverse was employed in the marriage VAM-19.2. This obverse terminated after limited use when an apparently instantaneous radial break formed near the top of Liberty’s coronet, the VAM-19A stage. 

What was unknown at the time of my book’s release is that the first obverse was then placed back into service, only to have the reverse suffer its progressive break.

At the time of Hill’s discovery in February 2013, it was clear there had to be a stage of the VAM-19.1 remarriage that lacked the radial break on the reverse. It can be identified by the pattern of reverse die cracks.

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