July 2015 - Welcome

How Rare is the 1881-O?

In June we discussed the question of rarity of Morgan dollars in general, and in particular our 1881-O.  Rarity is always a controversial topic, but we get some hints as to the new ways people find to destroy the coins.


We believe the destruction of circulated Morgans is happening at a much faster pace than in years past.  This inventory reduction will begin to show up with collectors at some future date.  The people who do the destruction have no understanding or interest in rarity, VAM, or other characteristics.  Some of the more inventive come from eBay, where sellers offer Morgans that have been "re-purposed" in different ways for the sake of jewelry or art, but the destruction isn't limited to eBay.  Many well known retailers remake them into belt buckles, money clips, and pendants.


George Morgan had no idea that the coin he created would become so iconic and so attractive that its beauty would hasten its destruction.  Below are just a few examples of "re-purposed" Morgan dollars.


Our current prize goes to the person who invented the process of turning a Morgan dollar into a ring.  This has gone so far as to have YouTube videos teaching would be jewelers how to do this in your garage.  While this produces a very interesting, wearable piece of history, it is immensely destructive to our hobby.  Just imagine that there are now hundreds or thousands of people experimenting with granddad's old dollar.


To watch a YouTube video on how to destroy a piece of history, Click Here


This is also one of our current favorites, a pop out 3-D Liberty.

Then there all manner of pendants, lockets, and necklaces, some with Liberty cut out or colored.

And of course a money clip is appropriate, but maybe not this one.

You have to know what time it is, right?

Holding our pants up is a must!

Gold leafing a silver coin is always a nice touch.

Lady Liberty as the grim reaper is nice.

Liberty as Carmen Miranda?

How about re-inscribed as a fairy, or Masonic coin, or in the form of a love token.

Then there are the hucksters who are artificially toning coins and trying to pass them off as real.

And the destruction goes on and on......

May/June Discoveries

So far we have been fortunate in our purchases and analysis of coins and have a few discoveries to our credit with the support of VSS and Leroy Van Allen.  During June 2015 we received the analysis back from Mr. Van Allen on ten coins we had sent him for analysis.  In the group there were three new discoveries, VAMs 55, 55A, and 56.  Also in the group were potential revisions to VAMs 24 and 28.  This information has been added to VAMworld and to our web site.


VAMs 55 and 55A - Doubled Right 1, Top and Right Side

Two of the discoveries come from one coin, an AU50 that contained a clashed "n" at the neckline.  From this it is obviously implied that there is an unclashed version of the same die pair.


VAM 55 is described as Doubled Right 1, Top and Right Side


VAM 55A has the same description with the addendum of "Clashed Obverse n"


The characteristics of the new Obverse Die 36 are a slight doubling of the flag at the top of the right one, and a small notch at the bottom of the same 1 on the outside bottom.


These VAMs are paired with Reverse Die a.

Clashed "n"

Die Marker - Diagonal Polishing Line in Bottom of the "Y" in LIBERTY


VAM 56 - Doubled Right 1 Lower Right

VAM 56 is similar to VAMs 55 and 55A, but with less doubling of the right 1 and no doubling on the flag.  The discovery was on an MS62 coin.


The characteristics of the new Obverse Die 37 include a doubling on the right one as a lower, right side notch.  Also included as a die marker is a small diagonal die scratch in front of the eye.


VAM 56 has Reverse Die l, which is shared with five other VAMs.

Die Marker in front of eye.

The addition of these three VAMs brings the total for the 1881-O to 78.


May/June Revisions

Mixed in with the coins we had evaluated in June were several coins designated as revisions to existing VAMs 24 and 28.


VAM 24 - Doubled Second 1

The coin we had evaluated by Leroy Van Allen is believed to have a slight variation to the original certified VAM 24.


While the notch on the left side of the vertical shaft of the right one is the same, VAM 24 has been a "catch all" for coins with the notch on the left side of the vertical shaft.

Our coin has a die marker that might distinguish it from others in a short vertical die scratch at the top of the right cotton leaf.


VAM 28 - Doubled Profile

Our submissions produced both new dies for this VAM.  The doubled profile of the two dies is essentially the same.  But there are two states for VAM 28.  The dies are easily separated by the spikes in the 8s.  Die 1 has a spike in both 8s, while Die 2 has a spike only in the first 8.

Our Inventory

We do not acquire coins daily for the project, but we do acquire them often.  We have struggled with just how to present the coins in progress of evaluation and have decided to add them on the "Our Collection" link above.  In this way you can see where new coins will show up in coming months.  It will take a few days, but the inventory in process will begin to show as PCGS numbers but without their VAM determination.


Since one of our objectives is to show coins of all grades for the 1881-O it will become obvious where our focus has been.  Right now there are only 160 coins on the web site, with photographs of another 100 coming back from VSS this next week.


But this also is only a portion of the coins to come.  As of July 15 our total inventory is 380 coins.  So

in the coming months at a minimum we will post  an additional 120 coins of various grades and VAMs.


We are already certain that there are some new discoveries in the coming group, so check back often with us.  We will post the discoveries as they are verified by VSS and Mr. Van Allen, but the real detail about the coins will be here.


This past week we also posted full images for the VSS Wiki where we had them and gaps existed.  Hopefully we will be able to help complete those in coming months and get the 1881-O page as complete as possible.


New Toned Coin

Earlier when we were analyzing our collection for coins with significant enough toning to present for analysis we missed this one.

We don't know how we missed it, but we did.  This coin has some of the more interesting toning lines on it that we have seen, and the speculation as to how it arrived in this condition gives could drive you insane.


The coin appears to us to go from gold to deep magenta or purple, which would place it as a late third or fourth cycle coin.  But that would mean that the exposure to the elements in this exact position was an extended period.


If you have an idea drop us a line.  You can click on the coin to go to the page with larger views.


Information Exploration

From our start one of our primary objectives has been to collect and share information about the 1881-O Morgan Dollar.  By extension, we hope to create more interest in Morgan Dollar collecting in general, and in VAM collecting specifically.


In June there were fewer visitors to the site, but then no new coins were being added and new discoveries were delayed until early July.

During May we received 265 visits from 31 different countries.  We put no real weight on any but the United States where we received 147 visits from 21 different States.  Hopefully these are either current collectors with new or renewed interest in Morgan Dollars, or new collectors seeking to understand this very specialized area of collecting.


For whatever reason we hope you will share our site with anyone who might help advance the topic of Morgan Dollar VAMs.