May 2018 - Welcome



Die Fingerprints

VAM 1I - Clashed Obverse n & st

Finally things on the grading and subsequent VAMing world are starting to pick up a little.  With PCGS returning some coins from two bulk submissions we are back making progress.

VSS Submissions

JB now has received 31 coins back from the bulk submissions and we have most of them back and ready for photography.  There are some interesting coins in the lots including a VAM 1I and that will close that gap in our collection and quest for a complete set.


Most of the coins in these two submissions are below mint state because of cost and we consider our grading set to be largely complete for now except for the very top of the grading spectrum.  Coin prices to us still seem to be easing and we have probably artificially inflated the 1881-O prices through our own purchases.  So a quiet period is in order from our perspective.  We still have a large number of coins to VAM and grade so we will not be completely quiet.  Most of our effort will go into studies of existing coins.


There is one coin in the first submission that will need LVA examination when possible.

Maybe a Two Trick Pony

For better or worse, while waiting on the coins from PCGS we opened up a new study outside the Morgan Dollar world.  This is in the realm of controversial coin issues, but a fascinating story about super rare coins.  There is a new web site coming for this study and we will post something here and on VAMworld when it goes live.


Our Last Look at This Sequence (Maybe)


This is our continuing look at VAMs 1H, 1J, 1K, 40, and 20.  Of particular interest has been the emission sequence, die cracks, and this month a look to see what physical characteristics would prove that this is the same physical die.  What we cannot confirm yet is that there are no others in the sequence.


These five VAMs also have three different die designations (1, 27, and 12)  which may or may not be deserved.


We have continued the discussion and repeated the analysis to date at the bottom of this page.


Reading List

Even though we spend most of our time with silver coins, for some reason gold coins hold a fascination that keeps us reading on that side of the metal world.  A recommendation from E-Sylum in April prompted us to read Confiscation by Kenneth R. Ferguson.


The Roosevelt era attempts to seize gold from all U. S. citizens has always been controversial and Mr. Ferguson bring clarity to the issues and facts to the failure of the efforts.  This book is clear, easily read, and factual.  If you have any interest in the topic or times then this is an excellent book to have on the list.  I even discovered that my Amazon Prime membership let me read it for free.


VAM 1I obviously distinguishes itself by the clash, but also through placement of the mint mark, and a missing line in the eye.  When there are rim cuds they are different than those seen on VAM 50A.

The coin is an AU 53, so not overly expensive and a solid coin with clear details.  It also provides a nice coin for VAMworld to fill the full coin image gap on this one.


Morgan Dollar "Fingerprints"

Obverse Die 1 (VAM 1H)

Obverse Die 1 (VAM 1K)

Obverse Die 27 (VAM 40)

This Obverse Die 1 is associated with many VAMs, but two of them are of particular interest.  First is VAM 1H - Die Gouges Inner Wing #2.  We have many examples of this VAM for study so a lot to work with.



As listed this die shows the same physical die cracks and characteristics as VAM 40 but the progression of the die cracks just isn't as far along.

The hair curls show the same loss of detail as VAM 40.

Since dies lose detail from the field forward the termination of these curls looks to be from a die that was repolished.

Obverse Die 1 (VAM 1J)

Obverse Die 1 is associated with many VAMs, but two of them are of particular interest.  One of those is VAM 1J - Overpolished Reverse.


Unfortunately we have only one coin and it is an Almost Uncirculated 58, so a few of the die cracks were not as visible as on the others.  Die cracks that appear on the high points of devices will for sure wear away quickly and might not appear here.



This is also an earlier use of the die than VAM 40.

But we want to make another observation that I always enjoy.

Since dies lose detail from the field forward the termination of these curls look to be from a die that has not been repolished and is relatively fresh.


Obverse Die 1 when paired with a specific Reverse Die a forms a clashed version of both the obverse and reverse dies and receives the designation of VAM 1K.


We lack an example of a VAM 1K - Clashed n and st so this link is to VAMworld.


Our observation from the discovery coin is that the die cracks that start with the left stars and then extend down through the neck and on into the date are there.  The VAMworld coin is also a circulated coin in the Fine range.  So any additional die cracks on the higher points of the  face or hair would have quickly disappeared and we don't know if they were present.

The termination of the hair curls on VAM 1K also appear to be full or nearly full.  This is a feature that is very low in the relief, so wear does not effect it until you get way down in grades.


The VAMworld coin is in Fine condition and at that stage only the tops of the hair curls are worn away.

Obverse Die 12 (VAM 20)

Obverse Die 12 when paired with a specific Reverse Die a forms VAM 20 - Doubled 18.  We have several examples of VAM 20 for study, so there is lots of material in different grades.



The die crack pattern appears to be identical to the others, just not as advanced.

The termination of the hair curls on VAM 20 is nearly identical to VAMs 1J and 1K, so there was no repolishing before the reverse die was changed (if it was).

Obverse Die 27 is associated with only VAM 40 - Doubled Ear Inside and Bottom.  We have several VAM 40 coins,  21 as of this analysis, and they range from Good 04 to Mint State 64.  These images are from a Mint State 64 coin.



Die 27 has a number of cracked areas, several that are internal to the device that distinguish it from others.  But one clincher is the unique vertical die crack above and below the nose.

We checked this feature on several VAM 40 coins and it is consistent.  This die appears to have been repolished and there is a deterioration of the curls down at the field level.

This termination is the same as with VAM 1H.

The Emission Sequence

Emission sequences are new for us and therefore we need verification of this work.  But we see a clear delineation of the die use into before and after the repolishing, with VAMs 20, 1J, and 1K coming first and in that order.  Then we believe the die was pulled from service and polished to try and save it, put back in service only to have it fail again.  On that second round the sequence of use was VAMs 1H and then 40.  It is possible that VAM 1I is in this sequence but we need more evidence to confirm that addition.


VAM 20




VAM 40

Just One Die?

Right now these five VAMs have three different obverse die designations.  VAMs 1H, 1J, and 1K are all designated as Obverse Die 1.  VAM 20 has a die designation of 12, and VAM 40 has a die designation of 27.  However, one of the challenges with VAMing can be having all the coins in the same place at the same time to compare features.  In this case we can do an 80% comparison on typical features to see why these VAMs have different die designations and are they correct.  And we are sure we can get a little help with VAM 1K once we work with these four.