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All 1881-O Morgan Dollars are of the Type II, Medium Oval O style mint mark. So style of mint mark is not a determining factor in recognizing VAMs. However, placement, alignment, tilt, and strike of mint marks are determining factors. Knowing how to determine these factors is important.
The Proper Mint Mark
The proper or intended O mint mark for the 1881-O would be defined as follows.
Centered horizontally between the ribbon bow at the top and the D and O in DOLLAR
Centered vertically between an imaginary line that runs across the bottom of the bow ribbons, and another imaginary line that runs across the top of the letters D and O in DOLLAR
The mint mark is upright and vertical, perhaps most easily described as tilted neither left or right.
Care needs to be taken to be sure you are viewing the coin in an upright position. We find the easiest way is to be sure the motto is exactly horizontal, and then take your measurements from there. Otherwise the tilting of the mint mark is difficult to determine.