US Coins

About VAMs column by John Roberts

In what can be thought of as both a blessing and a curse, some of the more interesting Morgan dollar varieties have remained obscure, even among specialists.

Recently I had the chance to personally examine one of the more impressive discoveries of the previous decade.

Since it was first reported by Calvin Cherry in October 2001, the images of the VAM-34 1901-O Morgan dollar published in New VAM Varieties of Morgan Dollars by Leroy Van Allen have repeatedly caught my eye as I’ve flipped through its pages to attribute other listings.

The 1901-O Morgan dollar is a date that has largely been skipped over by most VAM enthusiasts unless they were searching for one of the several strongly clashed obverse varieties known for the year.

Even with the limited attention, it is surprising more examples of the VAM-34 variety haven’t turned up. It’s the sort of thing a cherrypicker would definitely notice even if he or she weren’t specifically looking for it.

The doubling of the obverse die is boldest at Liberty’s eyelid with a second almost complete image separated from the intended design. Other doubling is clearly visible upon closer examination of the lower cotton leaves and the hair around Liberty’s ear.

The variety is a two-sided doubled die with the reverse displaying Class III (design hub) doubling.

A new reverse hub was made in 1900 and this is one of the many dies to have the newer hub sunk into the existing stock with the older design.

Doubling shows at points where the two designs differ, such as the olive fruit.

No trading history appears to have been established and it is not included in the most widely used U.S. coin pricing guide.

Despite the volume of dollars that have crossed my desk for attribution over the last decade, I’ve only held the present example.

It’s an impressive coin to look at, but so far only a few collectors have had the opportunity. It would seem to be a victim of its own rarity.

John Roberts is director of attribution services for ANACS. He is a longtime collector of Morgan dollar varieties and is considered an expert in attributing Morgan varieties.

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