The Devolving VAM 27

As our collection has grown the span of grades for each VAM has also grown.  This gives us the somewhat rare ability to compare how a VAM looks as it wears.  For the 27 - Double Ear, we have 21 coins in 7 different grades.  The grades range from Very Fine 25 to Mint State 64+, with duplicates in several grades.


Usually as coins wear, identification of specific VAM characteristics can become more difficult as key features wear or become obscured with dirt.  But we have not found this to be true with the VAM 27 because the key identifying feature is only the ear.

VAM 27 - As It Ages With Wear

These first two images compare an MS64 VAM 27 to a MS 62 VAM 1.  With the VAM 1 it is obvious how the eye was designed and how it should look.  The second set of images provide that same view of the VAM 1D neck and VAM 1.


The Aging 1D


Clashed Denticle

Date Issues


New Orleans and the Mint in 1881

The Devolving 5

One and Done

Two and Through


Die Fingerprints


The Devolving 27






This is a Mint State 64+ coin, PCGS xxx and at this state there is little change from the Mint State 64.  The fine lines at the bottom of the lower lid are gone in this example.  On this specific coin there are some additional bag marks around the eye, but obviously not a VAM feature.




This is a Mint State 62 coin, PCGS xxx and it has some unusual characteristics that are a little difficult to explain unless the die was pulled, polished, and put back into service.  The flakes in front of the eye are much less prominent and the eyelashes are less damaged, but this is a VAM 1D for sure.  The neck area would leave you to believe the coin was not repolished because that feature is essentially unchanged





This coin almost makes the MS state and the AU 58 grade is a little misleading.  But the coin is very lightly circulated.  The eye socket damage is very clear and comes from coin 26490195.  The neck is still unchanged, but probably should not be since we are still looking at a coin that is just one step removed from a Mint State coin.



At Almost Uncirculated 55 things start to change a little.  The indention on the eyeball is starting to flatten a little.  But interestingly the detail in front of the eyeball to the nose bridge is largely intact.  However, the detail in this area looks a little smoother indicating wear.  This is coin PCGS 20310520.


We have three examples at this grade and the change at the neck is starting to show.  Two examples look like this one and the other is even softer.




At Almost Uncirculated 53 the coin is taking on a smoother look and toward the bridge of the nose the metal flakes are starting to wear.  The remainder of the flakes are smoother and the cheek is losing some detail.  This is PCGS 26746239.


The neck is also starting to soften toward the stars, but the feature is still identifiable.






This coin is an Almost Uncirculated 50 and both features are just starting to look smoother.  The spider veins in front of the eye are fading on this example, and the neck is smoothing out.  This coin is PCGS 84368522.




Down to grade Very Fine 25 other damage and wear to the coin are starting to detract from the ability to identify the eye features.  Much of the detail still visible at AU 53 are gone.  A good wear indicator is the curl at the brow that is almost flattened.  This coin is PCGS 24392368.


This is a really dirty coin and without the dirt the neck feature would be much less visible.