May 2016 - Welcome

Study Images4157Study Images
VAMs in Collection75VAMs in Collection


New Toned Coins

Altered Wings

There is always something going on in our world of the 1881-O and this month will be no exception.  Our on-line inventory is 468 coins, and we may not increase that until June.  The timing of adding new coins is such that there will be a brief pause.


Included in the group we received from VSS in April is a VAM 33, our first.  We are spending the last few days in April and the first few days in May posting all the images.


We are sending a fresh five coins to LVA this month as soon as he is accepting submissions.  Two are just for clarification, but the others are potential new varieties.

We have about 40 coins scheduled to go to PCGS for either crossover or raw grading.

We have a small group of 4 coins to go to ANACS for crossover.


And lastly we have 64 or so coins to go to VSS for photography and VAM certification.

So in all stages another 108 coins are in the pipeline.

Next Up for Analysis

After a little consultation with others on VAMworld  we have decided that a beneficial study would be the date numerals.

Specifically we can take a look at these items.


  • Were the same punches used for the 1s and 8s?
  • Were the same punches used for all mints?
  • Were the 188 punches used before and after 1881?
  • At what stage in the production process was the date added?


Maybe we can shed some light on these issues and maybe not, but fun to think about.  The link to this discussion is under the Studies Link in the banner

In the group we received back from VSS there was one especially nice toned coin that has almost a flamethrower pattern across the bottom of the coin.  We showed this coin last month, but the images from VSS made it look even more spectacular.

This is PCGS 33251715, a Mint State 62, VAM 15 coin with nice eye appeal even though it has a couple of gashes on the cheek.


There were other coins with color and discolor, but none that were added to our toned coin group on the web site.


The 1881-O Market

For the first time in quite a while there was some movement in the value of coins in the 1881-O series.  A portion of this comes from the rise in silver prices and that does effect lower grade coins just a little.  But we think there is also a psychological effect that kicks in with rising silver prices that has a little impact on all grades.


Specifically PCGS noted a lower price for the AG-03 for almost all coin series for some reason, placing a value of only $22 on these (less than the cost of grading?).  But they noted price increases for all series in all grades from VF-30 through AU-53, probably just enough to compensate for bullion increases.  So there was nothing unique for the 1881-O.


In the Mint State coins they noted changes only for grades 61 and 62, and only in the DMPL classification.  They now peg the MS61DMPL at $95, and the MS62DMPL at $160, with the plus grade at $180.  Having bought a few of these in the past few months we believe these are just a little low, but not by much.


On the PCGS grading front there were a number of new coins below AU graded, but these are our submissions so we were not surprised.  The new coins above MS63 continue to rise, but at a very slow pace.


Our Collection

With the returns from VSS there are 468 coins now available on the web site for study or comparison.  There are many more coming (almost 100), it just takes time, energy, and money to get them here.


We have slowed our purchases down to the PL and DMPL category coins while we catch up with existing coins and save for the upper grade coins.


But with the inventory in process we believe there will be a hole filled here and there, and some discoveries along the way.


Young VAMers

For younger and new VAMers we added a discussion this month of date doubling.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive study of the subject, only an introductory piece for understanding.  We hope it helps a little for those who are new tot the hobby.

We finished up our analysis of wing polishing during the month of April and those results are posted in the Similitudes section of the web site.

The wing traits can be grouped and identified and they do provide additional clues as to VAM.


Moving Up the Food Chain

On April 29 we finally landed an affordable MS65+ on Heritage Auctions.  This takes us up one notch on the food chain with our grading challenge.  Since our goal is 1% of each grade and PCGS has graded only 59, this one coin makes that goal at this grade.  Although we would not rule out others as investments.

This coin obviously scratches another itch and pretty much fits the monster toned category on the obverse.  Just looking at the pictures of the coin it appears to be an end roll coin with the wrapper flaps forming the edges you see.  The reverse is free of any color.


The coin will arrive in May and we will probably send it to VSS in the next group.  Because of the toning we want to reserve any VAM opinion until we get it in hand.


Our Favorites

Someone recently raised the question on VAMworld about their favorite coin or VAM.  That got us thinking about what is our favorite coin for each VAM in our collection.  So we sent through each VAM and selected just one.

Some were picked because they are a singularity, some for eye appeal or color, some for grade, some for difficulty in locating them, and a few just because we like them better.


There is nothing scientific about the study, just an exercise in favoritism.  You can see the whole like by clicking here or following the "Our Collection" drop down link in the banner menu.