A Morgan dollar variety that puzzles researchers
- Published: Jan 6, 2017, 4 AM
About VAMs column from the Jan. 23, 2017, issue of Coin World:
One of the more unusual Morgan dollar variety features is a relatively recent discovery and is still not fully understood. Several varieties display anomalous raised lumps that are now referred to as “ovaloids.” Every listing found with this oddity so far has also displayed strong clashing, and usually multiple clashes as well.
Morgan dollar: For decades the Morgan dollar has ranked at the top U.S. coin collectors' favorite coins. Why is the Morgan dollar so popular? There are many reasons, including: large size, attractive designs, numerous varieties, historical significance. How much are Morgan dollars worth?
One of the more dramatic examples of the phenomenon is found on the VAM-3-O 1921 Morgan dollar discovered by John Baumgart in 2003. When first listed by Leroy Van Allen in New VAM Varieties of Morgan Dollars, the unusual raised areas were described as die damage. In the years since, this particular VAM has picked up the unofficial nickname “goldfish” for the distinctive shape of the lump in front of Liberty’s nose. Another ovaloid is found on the reverse. The marriage also shows clear evidence of multiple clashes that have been partially effaced by coarse polishing.
Connect with Coin World:
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
It is possible that the disruption of the die faces during the several clashing episodes left the small depressions we now see as lumps on the coins. The effect is not unique to Morgan dollars. Oddly, when clash marks were originally noted by some of the first American variety collectors of earlier series, they were referred to as “suction marks.”
The piece is also part of the set presented in WOW! An Introduction to Sixty of the Most Fascinating Morgan Dollar Die Varieties Currently Known by Robert Franklin. The book presents a group that is easily recognized and remembered. Some of the entries are major rarities, but the VAM-3-O can be found with a modest degree of patience. Examples are usually Uncirculated.
With a touch of whimsy from its nickname, and the remaining air of mystery behind its cause, the variety has become a favorite among specialists.
MORE RELATED ARTICLES
Paper Money Mar 19, 2023, 12 PM
Dutch firm warns of proliferation of euro counterfeiting
US Coins Mar 17, 2023, 1 PM
Week's Most Read: 2023 Morgan, Peace dollars
US Coins Mar 16, 2023, 2 PM
Market Analysis: Deja vu for this 1874-CC 50¢
World Coins Mar 16, 2023, 1 PM
Exhibition displays projection of power by the Tudor dynasty