US Coins

VAM-9 1883 Morgan dollar mimics the VAM-10

About VAMs column from Feb. 27, 2017, issue of Coin World:

One of the Morgan dollar varieties I highlighted during an education forum at Florida United Numismatists convention in January was the VAM-9 1883 dollar.

The VAM-9 variety of 1883 Morgan dollar was originally discovered in 1978 by Oscar Simpson, and afterwards listed in the Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis.

The variety is similar to, and sometimes mistaken for the VAM-10 1883 Morgan dollar, which is far better known due to its inclusion in The Top 100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys by Michael Fey and Jeff Oxman. Specialists looking for one variety among unattributed dollars may run into the other, and would consider either a great find.

The VAM-9 appears to be more rare, but it is lesser known and commands a smaller premium. 

The VAM-9 variety features dramatic doubling on all the obverse stars and moderately strong doubling on the motto lettering. Liberty’s portrait has no significant doubling but close examination reveals a minor spread.

The 18 in the date is doubled, too, and the digits reveal a curiosity about Morgan dollars of this age. In the early 1880s the dates were partially hubbed, with the digits 1 and 8 set in the master die.

Shifts on the date can be oddly complex, an amalgam of hub doubling and repunching. Even when no secondary image is apparent, most obverse dies from the era show a marked difference in relief between the first two digits and the final two. This ended in 1884 when all four digits were punched into each working die by hand, typically with a full-date gang punch.

The uniquely pieced together nature of the coins lends itself to a great deal of variation and is one of the things that makes Morgan dollar varieties such a specialized field of study.

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