About VAMs column from Feb. 27, 2017, issue of
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
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
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.