November 2017 - Welcome



Die Fingerprints

On Our Reading List

This has been another busy month but much more with preparation for more coins to come.

VSS Submission

In early October we sent a new group of coins to VSS for analysis and photography.  We did not expect these back until very late October or early November.


We have also included another twenty coins to be included in a new bulk submission.

LVA Submission

We sent in an unusual group of coins to Leroy for analysis, but also the results may not be back until mid-November.  We are asking for clarification on the obverse designations for two dies, and believe it or not we sent in an 1881-O $10 gold piece for some analysis.

PCGS Submission

We seem to be finding an unusual number of VAMs that can be certified by PCGS and it seems like it just speeds things along if we send them in directly rather than waiting on a bulk submission.  Hopefully these will be back this month.

Well we are now on to the Reverse Dies and fortunately there are fewer of them and the discussion might take a little less time.


As we did with the obverse dies we will start with dies where there is a one to one relationship with the obverse and reverse die.  This is a little less difficult and leads into the discussion on a more straightforward basis.


But our ultimate objective is to present our inventory with obverse and reverse dies in tandem and that will take some work.  We plan to do these as we study the reverse dies, so please be patient with us.


If you are looking for something serious to read and not a casual book on gold, then this might be the ticket.  Gold: The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal is a serious study of how important gold has been viewed in the history of man.  It also delves into the ugly side of where gold comes from, who is seriously amassing reserves, and other current topics.  Of particular interest to us was a discussion of why gold did not behave normally during the last recession.  A very helpful discussion, but not light reading.


Morgan Dollar "Fingerprints"

Morgan Dollar "Fingerprints"

Reverse Die f

Reverse Die k

In May 2017 we started an analysis of die cracks that we are likening to the uniqueness of fingerprints.  We continue that analysis this month with the first of the reverse die analyses.

To observe the die cracks and breaks magnification is often needed.  Also, high quality images such as the ones we use from VSS also help.  Some die cracks are more visible in the high quality images because contrast is easier to create, which reveals the cracks.  This analysis is really getting "down in the weeds," but that is a part of what makes this fun.  Please remember that you are looking at later die states in most cases and coins of the same die/VAM combination will exist without many of these features.

Reverse Die c

Reverse Die c has only one pairing and that is with Obverse Die 3.  This combination produces VAM 5 - O/O Right, Doubled 1.  This is a Hit List 40 VAM and one of the most sought after in the 1881-O series.


Because of the popularity of the VAM and our desire to study it in various states and grades we  have a large number, twenty-six, of them ranging in grade from AU 50 to MS 64 DMPL.

27855650       Mint State 64


None of our examples of VAM 5 show any reverse die cracks or breaks.


Reverse Die f is easily recognized and only appears with a variation of Obverse Die 1 to form VAM 8 - O Tilted Right.  This is a common VAM and we have twenty examples for study ranging from Good 4 to MS 64 DMPL.


However, none of the MS or AU coins show any signs of die cracks and below those grades cracks can wear away.

33671804       Mint State 64


There are obviously many pairings for Obverse Die 1.


Reverse Die j

Reverse Die j has only one pairing and that is with Obverse Die 1.  This combination produces VAM 12 - O/O Lower Right.

84368577       Mint State 62


None of our examples show any signs of die cracks or breaks.


Reverse Die k has only one pairing and that is with Obverse Die 4.  This combination produces VAM 13 - Doubled 8, O/O High.

28597078       Mint State 63


Not all of our coins show cracks, but several show light cracks beginning to develop at about nine o'clock and progressing up to twelve o'clock.
















Reverse Die a

The Reverse Die a part of this study is a little different and closely parallels the Die 1 obverse discussion.  Since the die is somewhat generic, and at the same time contains similarities when grouped to create a VAM we had to do a new page.


The die is examined by the obverse die designation.