December 2021 - Welcome
Our Total Collection
Coins by Grade
Coins by VAM
The Aging VAM 1D
Devolving VAM 5
1881 The Mint & NO
One and Done
Two and Through
Click on year to expand
New Toned Coins
More New Toned Coins
We continue to cross reference all our links both internal and external to the site. This is a long and laborious process, but one we need to do continuously.
Feedback from John
We still have one coin to submit to John for evaluation (VAMs 77, 77A) , and while he and others have already expressed some doubt about this one we want to spend some time under a scope to make our case either way.
Our web site has thousands of connections that need to be tested, updated, improved. Even though we will not mention them here unless they are significant, we will be working on these behind the scenes for months.
If you find a dead link let us know please.
By my count we are down to identification of the die cracks on just eleven VAMs in the 1881-O series.
1 - Normal Dies
1A - Spike in 8
28 - Doubled Profile (28.1, 28.2, 28.3)
34 - Doubled 18
50 - Doubled Ear Bottom
50A - Doubled Ear Bottom Clashed Obverse n & st Reverse M
73 - Doubled 18, Scratch Eye Front, Wing Top Gouges
74 - Doubled 18
79 - Doubled Left 8, Notched Right 1
80 - Slightly Doubled Liberty Head Profile & Cap Top
81 - Doubled Right 8, Cap Top, Profile, UNUM, Pitted Reverse
Setting aside VAMs 1 and 1A for later discussion this leaves just nine to analyze. (eleven counting the three VAM 28 variations)
Looking back this has been a three year project and one I am ready to draw to a close, only because I have other areas to explore.
Last month I decided to check out on eBay for toned coins and I guess I hit it just right. For some reason there were a lot of toned 1881-O's listed and a number of them were bargains. Here is what I found. Click on any image for a larger one.
PCGS 41418118 VAM 53 MS64+
PCGS 84127940 VAM 27 MS64+
PCGS 42938181 VAM 30 MS62
PCGS 81450121 VAM? MS62
PCGS 42699397 VAM 5 MS63
More New Coins
Now that a great deal of the die fingerprint work is behind me I plan to return to the study of the Mint Supervisors in New Orleans. We stopped this study with the onset of the Civil War, so time to get back to that look into time.
1837 - 1839 David M. Bradford
1839 - 1850 Joseph M. Kennedy
1850 - 1852 Robert M. McAlpin
1853 - 1857 Charles F. Bienvenu
1857 - 1861 William Augustus Elmore
Next up is, well it all depends......
VAM 28 - Doubled Profile
VAM 34 - Doubled 18
VAM 74 - Doubled 18
Several years back the Double Profile VAM 28 was separated into three groupings based on physical die characteristics.
The VAM is a pairing of Obverse Die 17 with Reverse Die a. Obverse Die 17 is associated with VAMs 28. and 23 and both have the descriptor of a "doubled profile." Over the years three different versions of VAM 28 were identified and these are designated as 28.1, 28.2, and 28.3.
This VAM is not easy and it takes some analysis to distinguish the dies used for classification. As of this writing in December of 2021 we have two examples of Die 1, five examples of Die 2, and fifty-five examples of Die 3. Even though dies 2 and 3 were identified later, once Leroy made the designations and we went back through all our coins most fell into the Die 3 category. However, to do this analysis we felt like we needed to go back through all 62 coins to verify the die designation.
DIE 1 Fingerprints
The dominant features of Die 1 are profile doubling and small die chips in the upper loop of both 8's at about ten o'clock, and a die chip behind the eye at the hair line.
We only have two examples of VAM 28.1. One is DMPL and the other has fields that would indicate recent polishing as they are reflective and free of any die cracks.
Die 2 Fingerprints
The dominant features of Die 2 are profile doubling and a small die chip in the upper loop of the first 8 only at about ten o'clock, and a diagonal die scratch below right rear of Phrygian Cap.
We have five examples of VAM 28.2, but only two in Mint State. None of the five show any die cracks on the obverse or reverse.
Die 3 Fingerprints
Tiny die chip at top left inside of left 8 upper loop, and a single diagonal polishing line at right side of R in LIBERTY. Die 3 coins are often higher graded coins and forty-four of our fifty-five examples are either PL or DMPL.
We have fifty-five examples of VAM 28.3, so this might be the most plentiful of all the 1881-O VAMs. Most examples are either PL or DMPL and as might be expected they show no signs of die cracks or breaks.
VAM 34 is either elusive, rare, or has been superseded by later discoveries. We have only one lonely coin, and it is an AU50, so not a great study coin for die cracks and breaks.
However, VAM 34A, the Pinned Wing variety, shows no die cracks and we have 18 of those. So we might reasonably assume that higher grade VAM 34 coins would also show no die cracks or breaks.
VAM 50 - Doubled Ear Bottom
VAM 50 is about in the middle on rarity. We have 10 examples ranging in grade from Fine 15 to Mint State 63 DMPL. However, only three of these coins are in mint state and one is PL and the other DMPL.
Examining all the coins from grade AU 58 or better, none show any signs of die cracks or breaks.
VAM 50A - Doubled Ear Bottom Clashed Obverse n & st Reverse M
VAM 50A is notable for the length of the description if noting else. The clashed version of VAM 50, it too shows no signs of die cracks or breaks.
For a clashed variety, VAM 50A has proven to be plentiful and as of this date we have 27 examples for examination. Of those eight are Mint State, so we have a lot of material to work with.
VAM 73 - Doubled 18, Scratch Eye Front, Wing Top Gouges
VAM 73 has proven to be difficult to locate and we only have one example of the VAM to study. This coin is an AU58 but so close to Mint State that we feel sure any die cracks or breaks would be visible.
We can find no die cracks or breaks on either side of the coin.
VAM 74 is one of our discovery VAMs and is a pairing of Obverse Die 50 with Reverse Die a. As of December 2021 we have only two examples of VAM 74 a Mint State 61 that is heavily toned and an Almost Uncirculated 53.
Neither coin shows no evidence of die cracks or breaks, and this is significant because toned coins often reveal faint cracks almost as if the color "catches" in the crack.
VAM 79 - Doubled Left 8, Notched Right 1
VAM 79 is another of our discovery VAMs and is a pairing of Obverse Die 54 with Reverse Die a. As of December 2021 we have only one example of VAM 79 an Almost Uncirculated 55.
The obverse of the coin is free of any die cracks, but the reverse has many cracks even though at this grade they often disappear. The pattern on the reverse for the die cracks does not match up with any other VAM at this point.
VAM 80 - Slightly Doubled Liberty Head Profile & Cap Top
VAM 80 is another of our discovery VAMs and is a pairing of Obverse Die 55 with Reverse Die a. As of December 2021 we have only one example of VAM 80 an Mint State 63+.
Both the obverse and reverse of the coin are free of any die cracks.
VAM-81 Doubled Right 8, Cap Top, Profile, UNUM, Pitted Reverse
VAM 81 is another of our discovery VAMs and is a pairing of Obverse Die 56 with Reverse Die a. As of December 2021 we have two examples of VAM 81, but both are worn just enough to have obscured any die cracks. One coin is an AU 53 and the other an XF40. Perhaps when other examples materialize we will find higher graded coins with remaining die cracks.
But for now both the obverse and reverse of the coin are free of any die cracks.