About VAMs column from June 27, 2016, Weekly issue of Coin World:
Over the years, the field of Morgan dollar variety collecting has
gone through several “boom and bust” cycles. In the early 1990s
interest in the field had all but collapsed, except for a small
handful of collectors.
A spectacular recovery followed the 1996 publication of The Top
100 Morgan Dollar Varieties: The VAM Keys by Michael Fey and
Jeff Oxman. The new focus in VAMs had shifted from pursuing the
listings presented in the Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of
Morgan & Peace Dollars by Leroy Van Allen and A. George
Mallis to a refined group of some of the most dramatic varieties.
Continuing in that spirit, in 2000 Jeff Oxman released the SSDC
Official Guide to the Hot 50 Morgan Dollar Varieties, presenting
another group of what were perceived to be highly desirable selections.
One of the tougher elements from the Hot 50 set has been the VAM-20
1886 Morgan dollar. It features a dramatic repunched date. While the
traces of the secondary digits may be fairly faint, the shift of the
errant punch is remarkable. It was initially sunk with a pronounced
slant, with the subsequent blows sunk in a corrected, more normal position.
The VAM-20 is frequently misidentified by novices. Careful
comparison to date position and other die markers will eliminate the
majority of the inaccuracies encountered. Multiple fine lines are
found in a D shaped gap in Liberty’s lower hair as pictured, and
several strong nearly horizontal lines are always present inside the
bow loop on the only reverse paired with this particular obverse.
The VAM-20 1886 dollar had sold for around $3,000 in the Mint State
62 to MS-63 range in the recent past. While values have been
retreating recently as more examples have been found and credibly
certified, demand still appears to exceed supply.
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